Germline breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) variants are associated with a high risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Many BRCA1-mediated cancers are initially responsive to platinum-based therapy; however, resistance commonly develops. The BRCA1185delAG mutation is common in the Ashkenazi Jewish population and has been thought to result in loss of function due to the introduction of a stop codon in the 5′ region of the BRCA1 transcript. Two studies in this issue of the JCI reveal that the BRCA1185delAG mutation results in the production of BRCA1 that lacks the N-terminal really interesting new gene (RING) domain. RING-less BRCA1 was shown to directly mediate chemoresistance, while maintaining some homologous recombination function. These results provide important insight into BRCA1 function and indicate that other truncated proteins could arise through similar alterations in codon usage.
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