Two classes of BRC repeats in BRCA2 promote RAD51 nucleoprotein filament function by distinct mechanisms

Aura Carreira, Stephen C. Kowalczykowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


The human tumor suppressor protein BRCA2 plays a key role in recombinational DNA repair. BRCA2 recruits RAD51 to sites of DNA damage through interaction with eight conserved motifs of approximately 35 amino acids, the BRC repeats; however, the specific function of each repeat remains unclear. Here, we investigated the function of the individual BRC repeats by systematically analyzing their effects on RAD51 activities. Our results reveal the existence of two categories of BRC repeats that display unique functional characteristics. One group, comprising BRC1, -2, -3, and -4, binds to free RAD51 with high affinity. The second group, comprising BRC5, -6, -7, and -8, binds to free RAD51 with low affinity but binds to the RAD51-ssDNA filament with high affinity. Each member of the first group reduces the ATPase activity of RAD51, whereas none of the BRC repeats of the second group affects this activity. Thus, through different mechanisms, both types of BRC repeats bind to and stabilize the RAD51 nucleoprotein filament on ssDNA. In addition, members of the first group limit binding of RAD51 to duplex DNA, where members of the second group do not. Only the first group enhances DNA strand exchange by RAD51. Our results suggest that the two groups of BRC repeats have differentially evolved to ensure efficient formation of a nascent RAD51 filament on ssDNA by promoting its nucleation and growth, respectively. We propose that the BRC repeats cooperate in a partially redundant but reinforcing manner to ensure a high probability of RAD51 filament formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10448-10453
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jun 28 2011


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer
  • Chromosome stability
  • DNA-break repair
  • Recombination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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