Genome stability relies on a network of interacting systems that detect and repair disturbances in the integrity of DNA. A central pathway that processes single-stranded DNA gaps and potentially lethal double-strand breaks in DNA that can occur during DNA replication employs a mechanism that repairs these lesions by homologous recombination. Primary components of this pathway in eukaryotes include Rad51 whose function is to search for DNA sequence homology and promote strand exchange, plus factors that enable, enhance, and control Rad51's activity. Among this constellation of Rad51-interacting proteins the master regulator is BRCA2, the product of a breast cancer susceptibility gene. BRCA2 in turn, is completely dependent upon its key interacting partner, Dss1, for activity. Through the concerted workings of this hierarchical complex comprised of Dss1, BRCA2, and Rad51, the homologous recombination system is harnessed to maintain stability and preserve the integrity of the genome. We seek to understand how BRCA2 functions in governing recombinational repair of DNA. We use the microbe Ustilago maydis as a model system for experimentation because it has a well-conserved BRCA2-homolog, Brh2, and is amenable to biochemical analysis and molecular genetic manipulations. The powerful attributes of this system open the way for gaining insight into BRCA2's molecular mechanism through avenues not immediately approachable in the vertebrate systems. Our primary objectives are to investigate the role of the two different DNA-binding regions of Brh2, to examine how Brh2 controls the activity of Rad51, to investigate how Brh2 serves in repair of DNA by homologous recombination by means beyond its established role in mediating delivery of Rad51 to single-stranded DNA, and to map a second DNA-binding region in human BRCA2. Our long-term goal is to provide knowledge of the function of BRCA2 and gain insight into how its dysfunction can lead to initiation of tumorigenic transformation.
Initiating progression to tumorigenesis can be provoked when the cellular systems responsible for maintaining genome stability are compromised. Repairing damaged DNA by homologous recombination comprises one of these system dedicated to preserving genomic integrity. An important gene that regulates homologous recombination encodes the BRCA2 protein, mutations in which cause early-onset breast cancer. This is a proposal to learn about the fundamental action of how BRCA2 works in regulating homologous recombination by studying the orthologous or equivalent protein in the setting of a simple, genetically amenable microbe..
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