PALB2 [partner and localizer of BRCA2 (breast cancer early-onset 1)] has emerged as a key player in the maintenance of genome integrity. Biallelic mutations in PALB2 cause FA (Fanconi's anaemia) subtype FA-N, a devastating inherited disorder marked by developmental abnormalities, bone marrow failure and childhood cancer susceptibility, whereas monoallelic mutations predispose to breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer. The tumour suppressor role of PALB2 has been intimately linked to its ability to promote HR (homologous recombination)-mediated repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Because PALB2 lies at the crossroads between FA, HR and cancer susceptibility, understanding its function has become the primary focus of several studies. The present review discusses a current synthesis of the contribution of PALB2 to these pathways. We also provide a molecular description of FA- or cancer-associated PALB2 mutations.

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