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Cancer Res. 1999 Jan 1;59(1):63-6.

The identification of monoclonality in human aberrant crypt foci.

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  • 1Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106, USA.


Malignant neoplasms, including colon cancers, are thought to arise from a single initiated progenitor cell. Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) are putative precursors of at least some colon cancers. The pattern of X chromosomal inactivation, which is identified by the differential methylation of a site near a polymorphic CAG repeat in the androgen receptor gene, was used to determine the clonality status of 11 ACF from eight female patients. Ten of 11 ACF were found to be monoclonal aberrations. The eleventh ACF appeared monoclonal, but nonrandom inactivation of the X chromosome was also seen in normal crypts from this patient. These results clearly demonstrate that: (a) a high percentage of ACF lesions are neoplastic rather than hyperplastic; and (b) ACF are the earliest identified neoplastic lesions in the colon.

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