The tumour suppressor breast cancer type 1 susceptibility protein (BRCA1) promotes DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair by homologous recombination and protects DNA replication forks from attrition. BRCA1 partners with BRCA1-associated RING domain protein 1 (BARD1) and other tumour suppressor proteins to mediate the initial nucleolytic resection of DNA lesions and the recruitment and regulation of the recombinase RAD51. The discovery of the opposing functions of BRCA1 and the p53-binding protein 1 (53BP1)-associated complex in DNA resection sheds light on how BRCA1 influences the choice of homologous recombination over non-homologous end joining and potentially other mutagenic pathways of DSB repair. Understanding the functional crosstalk between BRCA1-BARD1 and its cofactors and antagonists will illuminate the molecular basis of cancers that arise from a deficiency or misregulation of chromosome damage repair and replication fork maintenance. Such knowledge will also be valuable for understanding acquired tumour resistance to poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors and other therapeutics and for the development of new treatments. In this Review, we discuss recent advances in elucidating the mechanisms by which BRCA1-BARD1 functions in DNA repair, replication fork maintenance and tumour suppression, and its therapeutic relevance.
Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol