Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Chemical Biology

First Advisor

Matthew Hartman


A growing body of literature suggests Breast Cancer-Associated Protein 1 (BRCA1) is important not only as a cause, but also as a target in the quest for cancer treatment. BRCA1 deficient cells treated with radiation as well as PARP inhibitors and other chemotherapeutics demonstrate a greater sensitivity than cells with wild type BRCA1. Inhibitors of BRCA1 would take advantage of this synthetic lethality and represent a significant advance in cancer treatment as well as an understanding of the biology of DNA repair. Despite significant study of BRCA1 protein and function, it is a large protein (220 KDa) that is still largely uncharacterized, but its N- and C-terminal domains have been described by significant structural data. The BRCT (BRCA1 C-Terminal) Domain is a phosphoprotein binding domain that is commonly mutated or lost in cancers and has a binding cleft seemingly very suitable for drug design. Small molecule screens have been conducted against this domain, but the resulting hits with moderate affinity have not been shown to induce BRCA1 deficient phenotypes. Phosphopeptides have also been studied as potential BRCA1 inhibitors, yet despite some having affinities in the mid-nanomolar range the presence of a phosphate is not without its pharmacologic challenges. We generated an mRNA display library with 1.3 x 10^13 cyclized peptides covalently attached to the mRNA that encoded them. Eight rounds of selection exposing the library to a GST-BRCT fusion resulted in selection of non-phosphorylated peptides that bind to a BRCT domain of BRCA1. The sequences resulting from the selection have common homologies and initial characterization has shown that these peptides may be the first viable non-phosphoserine containing inhibitors of BRCA1.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2014