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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;656:85-106.

APC and its modifiers in colon cancer.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Colon cancer closely follows the paradigm of a single "gatekeeper gene." Mutations inactivating the APC (adenomatous polyposis coli) gene are found in approximately 80% of all human colon tumors and heterozygosity for such mutations produces an autosomal dominant colon cancer predisposition in humans and in murine models. However, this tight association between a single genotype and phenotype belies a complex association of genetic and epigenetic factors that together generate the broad phenotypic spectrum ofboth familial and sporadic colon cancers. In this Chapter, we give a general overview of the structure, function and outstanding issues concerning the role of Apc in human and experimental colon cancer. The availability of increasingly close models for human colon cancer in genetically tractable animal species enables the discovery and eventual molecular identification of genetic modifiers of the Apc-mutant phenotypes, connecting the central role of Apc in colon carcinogenesis to the myriad factors that ultimately determine the course of the disease.

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