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Cancer Res. 1999 Jul 1;59(13):3021-7.

Apoptosis induced by overexpression of hMSH2 or hMLH1.

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Department of Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City 84112, USA.


Mutations of the mismatch repair genes hMSH2 and hMLH1 have been found in a high proportion of individuals with hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), establishing the link between mismatch repair and cancer. Tumor cell lines that are deficient in mismatch repair develop a mutator phenotype that appears to drive the accumulation of mutations required for tumor development. However, mutations of other mismatch repair genes such as hPMS2 can lead to a mutator phenotype, although inherited mutations of these genes are rare in HNPCC families. Here, we show that overexpression of hMSH2 or hMLH1 but not of hMSH3, hMSH6, or hPMS2 induces apoptosis in either repair-proficient or -deficient cells. Furthermore, primary mouse embryo fibroblasts derived from Msh2-deficient mice lose their ability to undergo apoptosis after treatment with N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine. These results suggest that the mismatch repair proteins hMSH2 and hMLH1 may be components of a pathway that influences apoptosis. We consider the possibility that loss of apoptosis as a result of hMSH2 or hMLH1 deficiency may be an additional factor in cancer predisposition in HNPCC.

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