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Reviewed April 2015

What is the official name of the RAD51 gene?

The official name of this gene is “RAD51 recombinase.”

RAD51 is the gene's official symbol. The RAD51 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 RAD51 gene?

The RAD51 gene provides instructions for making a protein that is essential for repairing damaged DNA. Breaks in DNA can be caused by natural and medical radiation or other environmental exposures, and also occur when chromosomes exchange genetic material in preparation for cell division. The RAD51 protein binds to the DNA at the site of a break and encases it in a protein sheath, which is an essential first step in the repair process.

In the nucleus of many types of normal cells, the RAD51 protein interacts with many other proteins, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, to fix damaged DNA. The BRCA2 protein regulates the activity of the RAD51 protein by transporting it to sites of DNA damage in the nucleus. The interaction between the BRCA1 protein and the RAD51 protein is less clear, although research suggests that BRCA1 may also activate RAD51 in response to DNA damage. By helping repair DNA, these three proteins play a role in maintaining the stability of a cell's genetic information.

The RAD51 protein is also thought to be involved in the development of nervous system functions that control movement, but its role in this development is unclear.

How are changes in the RAD51 gene related to health conditions?

congenital mirror movement disorder - caused by mutations in the RAD51 gene

At least four RAD51 gene mutations have been identified in people with congenital mirror movement disorder, a condition in which intentional movements of one side of the body are mirrored by involuntary movements of the other side. These mutations change single protein building blocks (amino acids) in the RAD51 protein sequence, or introduce a premature stop signal in the instructions for making the protein, resulting in an impaired or missing protein. It is unknown how this shortage of functional RAD51 protein affects nervous system development and results in the signs and symptoms of congenital mirror movement disorder.

Genetics Home Reference provides information about breast cancer, which is also associated with changes in the RAD51 gene.

Where is the RAD51 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 15q15.1

Molecular Location on chromosome 15: base pairs 40,694,774 to 40,732,158

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBIThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.)

The RAD51 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 15 at position 15.1.

The RAD51 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 15 at position 15.1.

More precisely, the RAD51 gene is located from base pair 40,694,774 to base pair 40,732,158 on chromosome 15.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about RAD51?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about RAD51 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 RAD51 gene or gene products?

  • BRCC5
  • DNA repair protein RAD51 homolog 1
  • HRAD51
  • HsRAD51
  • RAD51A
  • RAD51 homolog (RecA homolog, E. coli) (S. cerevisiae)
  • RAD51 homolog (S. cerevisiae)
  • RECA
  • RecA, E. coli, homolog of
  • RecA-like protein
  • recombination protein A

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 RAD51?

acids ; cancer ; cell ; cell division ; congenital ; DNA ; DNA damage ; DNA repair ; E. coli ; gene ; involuntary ; nervous system ; nucleus ; protein ; protein sequence ; radiation ; recombinase

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

See also Understanding Medical Terminology.

References (11 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.

Reviewed: April 2015
Published: February 1, 2016