BRCA1 deficiency may perturb the differentiation hierarchy present in the normal mammary gland and is associated with the genesis of breast cancers that are genomically unstable and typically display a basal-like transcriptome. Oriented cell division is a mechanism known to regulate cell fates and to restrict tumor formation. We now show that the cell division axis is altered following shRNA-mediated BRCA1 depletion in immortalized but non-tumorigenic, or freshly isolated normal human mammary cells with graded consequences in progeny cells that include aneuploidy, perturbation of cell polarity in spheroid cultures, and a selective loss of cells with luminal features. BRCA1 depletion stabilizes HMMR abundance and disrupts cortical asymmetry of NUMA-dynein complexes in dividing cells such that polarity cues provided by cell-matrix adhesions were not able to orient division. We also show that immortalized mammary cells carrying a mutant BRCA1 allele (BRCA1 185delAG/+) reproduce many of these effects but in this model, oriented divisions were maintained through cues provided by CDH1+ cell-cell junctions. These findings reveal a previously unknown effect of BRCA1 suppression on mechanisms that regulate the cell division axis in proliferating, non-transformed human mammary epithelial cells and consequent downstream effects on the mitotic integrity and phenotype control of their progeny.
- Human mammary epithelial cells
- Mitotic instability
- Spindle orientation
ASJC Scopus subject areas