Research Article

BRCA2 Function in DNA Binding and Recombination from a BRCA2-DSS1-ssDNA Structure

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Science  13 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5588, pp. 1837-1848
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5588.1837

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Mutations in the BRCA2 (breast cancer susceptibility gene 2) tumor suppressor lead to chromosomal instability due to defects in the repair of double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination, but BRCA2's role in this process has been unclear. Here, we present the 3.1 angstrom crystal structure of a ∼90-kilodalton BRCA2 domain bound to DSS1, which reveals three oligonucleotide-binding (OB) folds and a helix-turn-helix (HTH) motif. We also (i) demonstrate that this BRCA2 domain binds single-stranded DNA, (ii) present its 3.5 angstrom structure bound to oligo(dT)9, (iii) provide data that implicate the HTH motif in dsDNA binding, and (iv) show that BRCA2 stimulates RAD51-mediated recombination in vitro. These findings establish that BRCA2 functions directly in homologous recombination and provide a structural and biochemical basis for understanding the loss of recombination-mediated DSB repair in BRCA2-associated cancers.

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