Mouse models of BRCA1 and BRCA2 deficiency: past lessons, current understanding and future prospects

Oncogene. 2006 Sep 25;25(43):5885-97. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209871.


Germline mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are responsible for a large proportion of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. Soon after the identification of both genes in the mid-1990s, investigators set out to develop mouse models for the associated disease. Whereas conventional Brca1 and Brca2 mouse mutants did not reveal a strong phenotype in a heterozygous setting, most homozygous mutations caused embryonic lethality. Consequently, development of mouse models for BRCA-associated tumorigenesis required the generation of tissue-specific conditional knockout animals. In this review, we give an overview of the conventional and the conditional mouse models of BRCA1 and BRCA2 deficiency generated over the last decade, as well as the contribution of these models to our understanding of the biological and molecular functions of BRCA1 and BRCA2. The most advanced mouse models for BRCA1- and BRCA2-associated tumorigenesis mimic human disease to the extent that they can be used in studies addressing clinically relevant questions. These models will help to resolve yet unanswered questions and to translate our increasing knowledge of BRCA1 and BRCA2 biology into clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BRCA1 Protein / deficiency*
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / deficiency*
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • Female
  • Fetal Death
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Models, Animal
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / genetics
  • Pregnancy


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA2 Protein