Unraveling the mechanism of BRCA2 in homologous recombination

Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2011 Jul 6;18(7):748-54. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2096.


BRCA2 is the product of a breast cancer susceptibility gene in humans and the founding member of an emerging family of proteins present throughout the eukaryotic domain that serve in homologous recombination. The function of BRCA2 in recombination is to control RAD51, a protein that catalyzes homologous pairing and DNA strand exchange. By physically interacting with both RAD51 and single-stranded DNA, BRCA2 mediates delivery of RAD51 preferentially to sites of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) exposed as a result of DNA damage or replication problems. Through its action, BRCA2 helps restore and maintain integrity of the genome. This review highlights recent studies on BRCA2 and its orthologs that have begun to illuminate the molecular mechanisms by which these proteins control homologous recombination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BRCA2 Protein / chemistry
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / physiology*
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / chemistry
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Rad51 Recombinase / chemistry
  • Rad51 Recombinase / genetics
  • Rad51 Recombinase / physiology
  • Recombination, Genetic*


  • BRCA2 Protein
  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • Rad51 Recombinase