The mechanisms underlying genetic susceptibility at loci discovered by genome-wide association study (GWAS) approaches in human cancer remain largely undefined. In this study, we characterized the high-risk neuroblastoma association at the BRCA1-related locus, BARD1, showing that disease-associated variations correlate with increased expression of the oncogenically activated isoform, BARD1b. In neuroblastoma cells, silencing of BARD1β showed genotype-specific cytotoxic effects, including decreased substrate-adherence, anchorage-independence, and foci growth. In established murine fibroblasts, overexpression of BARD1b was sufficient for neoplastic transformation. BARD1b stabilized the Aurora family of kinases in neuroblastoma cells, suggesting both a mechanism for the observed effect and a potential therapeutic strategy. Together, our findings identify BARD1b as an oncogenic driver of high-risk neuroblastoma tumorigenesis, and more generally, they illustrate how robust GWAS signals offer genomic landmarks to identify molecular mechanisms involved in both tumor initiation and malignant progression. The interaction of BARD1b with the Aurora family of kinases lends strong support to the ongoing work to develop Aurora kinase inhibitors for clinically aggressive neuroblastoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research