A replication error (RER) phenotype has been documented both in sporadic colorectal tumors and in tumors from patients with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). In the current study 8 of 49 (16%) sporadic colorectal cancers (CRCs) and 25 of 29 (86%) CRCs from HNPCC patients were found to be RER+. All 9 (100%) CRCs from HNPCC patients with germline mutations of the mismatch repair gene MSH2 were found to be RER+, while 16 of 20 CRCs from HNPCC kindreds unlinked or not studied for linkage to MSH2 were RER+. Corresponding analysis in colorectal adenomas revealed that only 1 of 33 (3%) sporadic tumors but 8 of 14 (57%) HNPCC tumors were RER+. Moreover, RER was found in all 6 extracolonic cancers (endometrium, 2; kidney, 1; stomach, 1; duodenum, 1; and ovary, 1) derived from members of HNPCC families. These data suggest the involvement of mismatch repair deficiency in the premalignant stage of tumorigenesis in HNPCC cases, and suggest that mismatch repair genes (MSH2 or others) are defective in the germline of nearly all these patients.


Part of this study was conducted at the Folkhälsan Institute of Genetics. Supported by grants from the Academy of Finland, the Finnish Cancer Society, the Sigrid Juselius Foundation, the Ida Montin Foundation, the Finnish Foundation for Gastroenterological Research, the Duodecim Foundation, the Research and Science Foundation of Farmos, the Cancer Society and Health Research Council of New Zealand, the Clayton Fund, NIH Grant CA 35494, and the Council for Tobacco Research Grant 1297-DR2.