Although most colorectal cancers are chromosomally unstable, the basis for this instability has not been defined. To determine whether genes shown to cause chromosomal instability in model systems were mutated in colorectal cancers, we identified their human homologues and determined their sequence in a panel of colorectal cancers. We found 19 somatic mutations in five genes representing three distinct instability pathways. Seven mutations were found in MRE11, whose product is involved in double-strand break repair. Four mutations were found among hZw10, hZwilch/FLJ10036, and hRod/KNTC, whose products bind to one another in a complex that localizes to kinetochores and controls chromosome segregation. Eight mutations were found in Ding, a previously uncharacterized gene with sequence similarity to the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pds1, whose product is essential for proper chromosome disjunction. This analysis buttresses the evidence that chromosomal instability has a genetic basis and provides clues to the mechanistic basis of instability in cancers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research