Differing clinical impact of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in serous ovarian cancer

Pharmacogenomics. 2012 Oct;13(13):1523-35. doi: 10.2217/pgs.12.137.


A key function of BRCA1 and BRCA2 is the participation in dsDNAbreak repair via homologous recombination. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, which occur in most hereditary ovarian cancers (OCs) and approximately 10% of all OC cases, are associated with defects in homologous recombination and genomic instability, a phenotype termed 'BRCAness'. The clinical effects of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have commonly been analyzed together; however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these mutations do not have the same effects in OC. Recently, three major reports highlighted the unequal clinical characteristics of OCs with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. All studies demonstrated that BRCA2-mutated patients are associated with better survival and therapeutic response than BRCA1-mutated and wild-type patients with serous OC. The differing prognostic effects of the BRCA2 and BRCA1 mutations is likely due to differing roles of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in homologous recombination repair and a stronger association between the BRCA2 mutation and a hypermutator phenotype. These new findings have potentially important implications for clinical management of patients with serous OC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • BRCA1 Protein / chemistry
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • BRCA2 Protein / chemistry
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / mortality
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prognosis


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human