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Reviewed October 2015
What is the official name of the BRCA1 gene?
The official name of this gene is “breast cancer 1.”
BRCA1 is the gene's official symbol. The BRCA1 gene is also known by other names, listed below.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
What is the normal function of the BRCA1 gene?
The BRCA1 gene provides instructions for making a protein that acts as a tumor suppressor. Tumor suppressor proteins help prevent cells from growing and dividing too rapidly or in an uncontrolled way.
The BRCA1 protein is involved in repairing damaged DNA. In the nucleus of many types of normal cells, the BRCA1 protein interacts with several other proteins to mend breaks in DNA. These breaks can be caused by natural and medical radiation or other environmental exposures, and they also occur when chromosomes exchange genetic material in preparation for cell division. By helping to repair DNA, the BRCA1 protein plays a critical role in maintaining the stability of a cell's genetic information.
Research suggests that the BRCA1 protein also regulates the activity of other genes and plays an essential role in embryonic development. To carry out these functions, the BRCA1 protein interacts with many other proteins, including other tumor suppressors and proteins that regulate cell division.
Does the BRCA1 gene share characteristics with other genes?
The BRCA1 gene belongs to a family of genes called RNF (RING-type zinc fingers).
A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.
How are changes in the BRCA1 gene related to health conditions?
Where is the BRCA1 gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 17q21
Molecular Location on chromosome 17: base pairs 43,044,295 to 43,125,483
(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (
The BRCA1 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 17 at position 21.
More precisely, the BRCA1 gene is located from base pair 43,044,295 to base pair 43,125,483 on chromosome 17.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about BRCA1?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about BRCA1 helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for the BRCA1 gene or gene products?
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding BRCA1?
cancer ; cell ; cell division ; colon ; DNA ; embryonic ; gene ; hereditary ; inherited ; mutation ; nucleus ; ovarian ; pancreatic ; population ; prostate ; protein ; radiation ; susceptibility ; susceptibility gene ; syndrome ; tumor
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (14 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.