The tumor suppressor BRCA1 has an important function in the maintenance of genomic stability. Increasing evidence suggests that BRCA1 regulates cell cycle checkpoints and DNA repair after DNA damage. However, little is known about its normal function in the absence of DNA damage. Here we show that BRCA1 interacts and colocalizes with topoisomerase IIalpha in S phase cells. Similar to cells treated with the topoisomerase IIalpha inhibitor ICRF-193, BRCA1-deficient cells show lagging chromosomes, indicating a defect in DNA decatenation and chromosome segregation. More directly, BRCA1 deficiency results in defective DNA decatenation in vitro. Finally, topoisomerase IIalpha is ubiquitinated in a BRCA1-dependent manner, and topoisomerase IIalpha ubiquitination correlates with higher DNA decatenation activity. Together these results suggest an important role of BRCA1 in DNA decatenation and reveal a previously unknown function of BRCA1 in the maintenance of genomic stability.
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