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Nat Med. 1995 Nov;1(11):1203-6.

Founding mutations and Alu-mediated recombination in hereditary colon cancer.

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Department of Medical Genetics, University of Helsinki, Finland.


By screening members of Finnish families displaying hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) for predisposing germline mutations in MSH2 and MLH1, we show that two mutations in MLH1 together account for 63% (19/30) of kindreds meeting international diagnostic criteria. Mutation 1, originally detected as a 165-base pair deletion in MLH1 cDNA comprising exon 16, was shown to consist of a 3.5-kilobase genomic deletion most likely resulting from Alu-mediated recombination. Mutation 2 destroys the splice acceptor site of exon 6. A simple diagnostic test based on polymerase chain reaction was designed for both mutations. Our results show that these two ancestral founding mutations account for a majority of Finnish HNPCC kindreds and represent the first report of Alu-mediated recombination causing a prevalent, dominantly inherited predisposition to cancer.

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