Recombinational repair of DNA double-strand damage - some key steps.ATM (ATM) is a protein kinase that is recruited and activated by DNA double-strand breaks. DNA double-strand damages also activate the Fanconi anemia core complex (FANCA/B/C/E/F/G/L/M). The FA core complex monoubiquitinates the downstream targets FANCD2 and FANCI. ATM activates (phosphorylates) CHEK2 and FANCD2 CHEK2 phosphorylates BRCA1. Ubiquinated FANCD2 complexes with BRCA1 and RAD51. The PALB2 protein acts as a hub, bringing together BRCA1, BRCA2 and RAD51 at the site of a DNA double-strand break, and also binds to RAD51C, a member of the RAD51 paralog complex RAD51B-RAD51C-RAD51D-XRCC2 (BCDX2). The BCDX2 complex is responsible for RAD51 recruitment or stabilization at damage sites.RAD51 plays a major role in homologous recombinational repair of DNA during double strand break repair. In this process, an ATP dependent DNA strand exchange takes place in which a single strand invades base-paired strands of homologous DNA molecules. RAD51 is involved in the search for homology and strand pairing stages of the process.
This gene encodes a protein that functions in genome maintenance (double strand break repair). This protein binds to and colocalizes with the breast cancer 2 early onset protein (BRCA2) in nuclear foci and likely permits the stable intranuclear localization and accumulation of BRCA2. PALB2 binds the single strand DNA and directly interacts with the recombinase RAD51 to stimulate strand invasion, a vital step of homologous recombination, (see Figure "Homologous recombinational repair of DNA double-strand damage"). PALB2 can function synergistically with a BRCA2 chimera (termed piccolo, or piBRCA2) to further promote strand invasion.
Variants in the PALB2 gene are associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer  of magnitude similar to that associated with BRCA2 mutations  and PALB2-deficient cells are sensitive to PARP inhibitors.
PALB2 was recently identified as a susceptibility gene for familial pancreatic cancer by scientists at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center at Johns Hopkins. This has paved for the way for developing a new gene test for families where pancreatic cancer occurs in multiple family members. Tests for PALB2 have been developed by Ambry Genetics  and Myriad Genetics that are now available. The PALB2 Interest Group (PALB2.org) is an international consortium of scientists and clinicians who coordinate research into this gene. They are keen to hear from women and men with PALB2 mutations.
Biallelic mutations in PALB2 (also known as FANCN), similar to biallelic BRCA2 mutations, cause Fanconi anemia.
PALB2 mutant male mice have reduced fertility. This reduced fertility appears to be due to germ cell attrition resulting from a combination of unrepaired DNA breaks during meiosis and defective synapsis of the X and Y chromosomes. The function of homologous recombination during meiosis appears to be repair of DNA damages, particularly double-strand breaks (also see Origin and function of meiosis). The PALB2-BRCA1 interaction is likely important for repairing such damages during male meiosis.
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