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The Elusive Protein, Found

Three groups of researchers have found the BRCA2 protein that is believed to contribute to inherited cases of breast and ovarian cancer, reports New Scientist's Jessica Hamzelou. It's been known that mutations in the BRCA2 gene can cause DNA damage leading to cancer, but until now, the protein has been difficult to isolate. A team at UC Davis led by Stephen Kowalczykowski isolated the protein by inserting the gene into a human virus and infecting human embryonic kidney cells, which then expressed the protein, Hamzelou says. They then found that about six RAD-51 proteins (which also repair DNA damage) bind to BRCA2. Another UC Davis team led by Wolf-Dietrich Heyer expressed the BRCA2 gene in yeast, and came to same conclusions about its interactions with RAD-51, Hamzelou reports. In addition, a team led by Stephen West at Cancer Research UK found that BRCA2 takes RAD-51 where it needs to go to repair DNA damage, she adds, which could explain why BRCA2 mutations lead to more DNA damage.