Exploiting the DNA repair defect in BRCA mutant cells in the design of new therapeutic strategies for cancer

Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 2005;70:139-48. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2005.70.012.


Individuals harboring germ-line mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at highly elevated risk of a variety of cancers. Ten years of research has revealed roles for BRCA1 and BRCA2 in a wide variety of cellular processes. However, it seems likely that the function of these proteins in DNA repair is critically important in maintaining genome stability. Despite this increasing knowledge of the defects present in BRCA-deficient cells, BRCA mutation carriers developing cancer are still treated similarly to sporadic cases. Here we describe our efforts, based on understanding the DNA repair defects in BRCAdeficient cells, to define the optimal existing treatment for cancers arising in BRCA mutation carriers and, additionally, the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Finally, we discuss how therapies developed to treat BRCA mutant tumors might be applied to some sporadic cancers sharing similar specific defects in DNA repair.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Collagen Type XI / antagonists & inhibitors
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Recombination, Genetic


  • COL11A2 protein, human
  • Collagen Type XI