p53 Binding protein 1 (53BP1) belongs to a family of evolutionarily conserved DNA damage checkpoint proteins with C-terminal BRCT domains and is most likely the human ortholog of the budding yeast Rad9 protein, the first cell cycle checkpoint protein to be described. 53BP1 localizes rapidly to sites of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) and its initial recruitment to these sites has not been shown to be dependent on any other protein. Initially, 53BP1 was thought to be a mediator of DNA DSB signaling, but now it has been shown to function upstream of ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM), in one of at least two parallel pathways leading to ATM activation in response to DNA damage. Currently, only a single tudor and two BRCT domains are recognized in 53BP1; however, their precise functional role is not understood. Elucidating the function of 53BP1 will be critical to understanding how cells recognize DNA DSBs and how ATM is activated.
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