The two hereditary breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, have roles in responding to DNA damage. When they are mutated or absent, the outcome is genomic instability, a contributory factor to cancer development. Studies on BRCA2 have been hampered by its large size, which made purification of the full-length protein challenging. Steve Kowalczykowski and colleagues now report the first in vitro characterization of full-length BRCA2, and delineate the different ways by which BRCA2 facilitates RAD51-mediated homologous recombination.
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