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Eur J Biochem. 1996 Jun 1;238(2):297-307.

DNA-replication fidelity, mismatch repair and genome instability in cancer cells.

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Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, North Carolina 27709, USA.


It has been suggested that an early event in the multistep progression of a normal cell to a tumor cell could be a defect that leads to an elevated mutation rate, thus providing a pool of mutants upon which selection could act to yield a tumor. Such a mutator phenotype could result from a defect in any of several DNA transactions, including those that determine the DNA replication error rate or the ability to correct replication errors. Recent evidence for the latter is the mutator phenotype observed in tumor cells of patients having a hereditary form of colon cancer. These patients have a germline mutation in genes required for post-replication DNA mismatch repair. A second mutation arises somatically, yielding a greatly elevated mutation rate due to an inability to correct DNA replication errors. This connection between cancer, DNA replication errors and defective mismatch repair is the subject of this review, wherein we consider the key steps and principles for high fidelity replication and how their perturbation results in genome instability.

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