• tumor suppressor;
  • DNA repair;
  • DNA damage response;
  • chromatin remodeling;
  • ubiquitination;
  • E3 ligase;
  • cell cycle checkpoint;
  • RING finger;
  • BRCT domain


Heterozygous carriers of loss-of-function germline mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer susceptibility genes have a predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. Multiple functions have been ascribed to the products of these genes, linking them to pathways that inhibit progression to neoplasia. Various investigators have assigned roles for these tumor suppressor gene products in the cell functions of genome repair, transcription, and growth control. There is emerging evidence that BRCA1 may participate in ubiquitin E3 ligase activity. BRCA1 and BRCA2 have each been implicated in chromatin remodeling dynamics via protein partnering. Ubiquitin ligase and chromatin remodeling activities need not be mutually exclusive and both may function in DNA repair, transcriptional regulation, or cell cycle control. Here we highlight certain recent findings and currently unanswered questions regarding BRCA1 and BRCA2 in breast cancer. Microsc. Res. Tech. 59:68–83, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.