Humans with inherited mutations in BRCA2 are at increased risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer; however, the relationship between BRCA2 mutation and these cancers is not understood. Studies of Brca2 mutation by gene targeting in mice are limited, given that homozygous Brca2 mutation typically leads to early embryonic lethality. We established a zebrafish line with a nonsense mutation in brca2 exon 11 (brca2(Q658X)), a mutation similar in location and type to BRCA2 mutations found in humans with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. brca2(Q658X) homozygous zebrafish are viable and survive to adulthood; however, juvenile homozygotes fail to develop ovaries during sexual differentiation. Instead, brca2(Q658X) homozygotes develop as infertile males with meiotic arrest in spermatocytes. Germ cell migration to the embryonic gonadal ridge is unimpaired in brca2(Q658X) homozygotes; thus, failure of ovarian development is not due to defects in early establishment of the embryonic gonad. Homozygous tp53 mutation rescues ovarian development in brca2(Q658X) homozygous zebrafish, reflecting the importance of germ cell apoptosis in gonad morphogenesis. Adult brca2(Q658X) homozygous zebrafish are predisposed to testicular neoplasias. In addition, tumorigenesis in multiple tissues is significantly accelerated in combination with homozygous tp53 mutation in both brca2(Q658X) homozygous and brca2(Q658X) heterozygous zebrafish. These studies reveal critical roles for brca2 in ovarian development and tumorigenesis in reproductive tissues.
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