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J Clin Oncol. 2005 Aug 20;23(24):5651-9.

Adenomatous polyposis families that screen APC mutation-negative by conventional methods are genetically heterogeneous.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Institute of Dentistry, Biomedicum Helsinki, PO Box 63 (Haartmaninkatu 8), FIN-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.



One third of families with classical adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and a majority of those with attenuated FAP (AFAP), remain APC mutation-negative by conventional methods. Our purpose was to clarify the genetic basis of polyposis and genotype-phenotype correlations in such families.


We studied a cohort of 29 adenomatous polyposis families that had screened APC mutation-negative by the protein truncation test, heteroduplex analysis, and exon-specific sequencing. The APC gene was investigated for large genomic rearrangements by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA), and for allelic mRNA expression by single nucleotide primer extension (SNuPE). The AXIN2 gene was screened for mutations by sequencing.


Four families (14%) showed a constitutional deletion of the entire APC gene (three families) or a single exon (one family). Seven families (24%) revealed reduced or extinct mRNA expression from one APC allele in blood, accompanied by loss of heterozygosity in the APC region in six (75%) of eight tumors. In 15 families (52%), possible APC involvement could be neither confirmed nor excluded. Finally, as detailed elsewhere, three families (10%) had germline mutations in genes other than APC, AXIN2 in one family, and MYH in two families.


"APC mutation-negative" FAP is genetically heterogeneous, and a combination of MLPA and SNuPE is able to link a considerable proportion (38%) to APC. Significant differences were observed in clinical manifestations between subgroups, emphasizing the importance of accurate genetic and clinical characterization for the proper management of such families.

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