DNA polymerase stalling, sister chromatid recombination and the BRCA genes.

Abstract:

Heritable predisposition to breast and/or ovarian cancer is determined, in part, by germline mutation affecting one of two tumor suppressor genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 (Miki et al., 1994; Wooster et al., 1995). These genes are required for the maintenance of genomic integrity and for control of homologous recombination in somatic and meiotic cells. Here, we explore the hypothesis that a major role of the BRCA gene products in the somatic DNA damage response centers upon the control of recombination between sister chromatids during S phase. By analogy with model organisms, we suggest that stalling of a mammalian DNA polymerase complex by its encounter with abnormal DNA structure calls forth a series of responses that collaborate to enforce appropriate recombinational outcomes, and to suppress inappropriate or 'illegitimate' recombination.

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