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J Gastrointest Oncol. 2013 Dec;4(4):397-408. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2078-6891.2013.021.

Mismatch repair protein expression in colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland;



Alterations in at least six of the genes that encode proteins involved in the mismatch repair (MMR) system have been identified in either HNPCC or sporadic colon cancer. We aimed to analyse the proportion of patients with colorectal cancer with loss of immunostaining for MMR proteins in order to determine the feasibility of molecular screening for the loss of MMR proteins through the study of unselected patients with colorectal cancer.


A group of 33 patients with colorectal cancer was randomly selected from the department of surgery bio-bank to determine the expression of MMR proteins in their FFPE tumour tissues using immunohistochemistry techniques. Changes in protein expression following transfection of colorectal tissues were observed in stained cells using Olympus BX60 microscope and image analySIS software.


Of the tissue specimens in which acceptable immunostaining was achieved, three samples showed loss of one or more of the MMR proteins. Both hMLH1 and hPMS2 proteins were not expressed in a 36 years old woman with cancer of the caecum. The expression of hMSH6 protein was undetermined in tumour tissues retrieved from a 61 years old man with cancer of the proximal colon. The third case was a 77 years old man with no documented family history of cancer, who had carcinoma of the rectum. He showed loss of hMLH1 expression in the tumour tissues.


Our findings and the previous reports pointed out the importance of molecular screening of patients with colorectal cancer for MSI using immunohistochemistry. This strategy managed to identify mutations in patients otherwise would not have been detected.


HNPCC; Mismatch repair (MMR) proteins; colorectal cancer

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