Role of the tumor suppressor gene Brca1 in genetic stability and mammary gland tumor formation

Oncogene. 2000 Feb 21;19(8):1059-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1203269.


Germline mutations in the tumor suppressor BRCA1 predispose women to breast and ovarian cancers. Current evidence demonstrates that mutations in BRCA1 do not directly result in tumor formation, but instead cause genetic instability, subjecting cells to high risks of malignant transformation. In an animal model in which Brca1 is mutated specifically in mammary epithelium, tumorigenesis occurs in mutant glands at low frequency after a long latency. Notably, introduction of a p53-null allele significantly enhanced mammary gland tumor formation in Brca1 conditional mutant mice. These results are consistent with a model that Brca1 is a caretaker gene, whose absence causes genetic instability and triggers further alterations, including inactivation of tumor suppressor genes and/or activation of oncogenes, leading to tumor formation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA1 Protein / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Centromere / genetics
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics*
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mutation


  • BRCA1 Protein