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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®


Reviewed August 2007

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.

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.

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

breast cancer - associated with the RAD51 gene

Several alterations in the RAD51 gene have been associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Some of these genetic changes appear to modify breast cancer risk in women who also carry a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Because the proteins produced from these three genes work together to fix damaged DNA, mutations likely disrupt the normal repair process. As defects accumulate in DNA, they can allow cells to grow and divide uncontrollably and form a tumor.

Where is the RAD51 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 15q15.1

Molecular Location on chromosome 15: base pairs 40,694,773 to 40,732,157

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 40,694,773 to base pair 40,732,157 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

See How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What glossary definitions help with understanding RAD51?

cancer ; cell ; cell division ; DNA ; DNA damage ; DNA repair ; E. coli ; gene ; mutation ; nucleus ; protein ; radiation ; recombinase ; tumor

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


  • Cousineau I, Abaji C, Belmaaza A. BRCA1 regulates RAD51 function in response to DNA damage and suppresses spontaneous sister chromatid replication slippage: implications for sister chromatid cohesion, genome stability, and carcinogenesis. Cancer Res. 2005 Dec 15;65(24):11384-91. (
  • Davies AA, Masson JY, McIlwraith MJ, Stasiak AZ, Stasiak A, Venkitaraman AR, West SC. Role of BRCA2 in control of the RAD51 recombination and DNA repair protein. Mol Cell. 2001 Feb;7(2):273-82. (
  • Goodsell DS. The molecular perspective: RAD51 and BRCA2. Oncologist. 2005 Aug;10(7):555-6. Review. (
  • Kadouri L, Kote-Jarai Z, Hubert A, Durocher F, Abeliovich D, Glaser B, Hamburger T, Eeles RA, Peretz T. A single-nucleotide polymorphism in the RAD51 gene modifies breast cancer risk in BRCA2 carriers, but not in BRCA1 carriers or noncarriers. Br J Cancer. 2004 May 17;90(10):2002-5. (
  • Kato M, Yano K, Matsuo F, Saito H, Katagiri T, Kurumizaka H, Yoshimoto M, Kasumi F, Akiyama F, Sakamoto G, Nagawa H, Nakamura Y, Miki Y. Identification of Rad51 alteration in patients with bilateral breast cancer. J Hum Genet. 2000;45(3):133-7. (
  • Kawabata M, Kawabata T, Nishibori M. Role of recA/RAD51 family proteins in mammals. Acta Med Okayama. 2005 Feb;59(1):1-9. Review. (
  • Lose F, Lovelock P, Chenevix-Trench G, Mann GJ, Pupo GM, Spurdle AB; Kathleen Cuningham Foundation Consortium for Research into Familial Breast Cancer. Variation in the RAD51 gene and familial breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2006;8(3):R26. Epub 2006 Jun 8. (
  • Lo T, Pellegrini L, Venkitaraman AR, Blundell TL. Sequence fingerprints in BRCA2 and RAD51: implications for DNA repair and cancer. DNA Repair (Amst). 2003 Sep 18;2(9):1015-28. (
  • NCBI Gene (
  • Pellegrini L, Yu DS, Lo T, Anand S, Lee M, Blundell TL, Venkitaraman AR. Insights into DNA recombination from the structure of a RAD51-BRCA2 complex. Nature. 2002 Nov 21;420(6913):287-93. Epub 2002 Nov 10. (
  • Tarsounas M, Davies D, West SC. BRCA2-dependent and independent formation of RAD51 nuclear foci. Oncogene. 2003 Feb 27;22(8):1115-23. (
  • Thacker J. The RAD51 gene family, genetic instability and cancer. Cancer Lett. 2005 Mar 10;219(2):125-35. Review. (
  • Venkitaraman AR. A growing network of cancer-susceptibility genes. N Engl J Med. 2003 May 8;348(19):1917-9. Review. (


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: August 2007
Published: April 13, 2015