Molecular genetic analysis of DNA alterations in Irish colorectal cancer

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Mulcahy, Tanya M.
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University College Cork
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Colorectal cancer is the most common cause of death due to malignancy in nonsmokers in the western world. In 1995 there were 1,757 cases of colon cancer in Ireland. Most colon cancer is sporadic, however ten percent of cases occur where there is a previous family history of the disease. In an attempt to understand the tumorigenic pathway in Irish colon cancer patients, a number of genes associated with colorectal cancer development were analysed in Irish sporadic and HNPCC colon cancer patients. The hereditary forms of colon cancer include Familial adenomatous polyposis coli (FAP) and Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC). Genetic analysis of the gene responsible for FAP, (the APC gene) has been previously performed on Irish families, however the genetic analysis of HNPCC families is limited. In an attempt to determine the mutation spectrum in Irish HNPCC pedigrees, the hMSH2 and hMLHl mismatch repair genes were screened in 18 Irish HNPCC families. Using SSCP analysis followed by DNA sequencing, five mutations were identified, four novel and a previously reported mutation. In families where a mutation was detected, younger asyptomatic members were screened for the presence of the predisposing mutation (where possible). Detection of mutations is particularly important for the identification of at risk individuals as the early diagnosis of cancer can vastly improve the prognosis. The sensitive and efficient detection of multiple different mutations and polymorphisms in DNA is of prime importance for genetic diagnosis and the identification of disease genes. A novel mutation detection technique has recently been developed in our laboratory. In order to assess the efficacy and application of the methodology in the analysis of cancer associated genes, a protocol for the analysis of the K-ras gene was developed and optimised. Matched normal and tumour DNA from twenty sporadic colon cancer patients was analysed for K-ras mutations using the Glycosylase Mediated Polymorphism Detection technique. Five mutations of the K-ras gene were detected using this technology. Sequencing analysis verified the presence of the mutations and SSCP analysis of the same samples did not identify any additional mutations. The GMPD technology proved to be highly sensitive, accurate and efficient in the identification of K-ras gene mutations. In order to investigate the role of the replication error phenomenon in Irish colon cancer, 3 polyA tract repeat loci were analysed. The repeat loci included a 10 bp intragenic repeat of the TGF-β-RII gene. TGF-β-RII is involved in the TGF-β epithelial cell growth pathway and mutation of the gene is thought to play a role in cell proliferation and tumorigenesis. Due to the presence of a repeat sequence within the gene, TGFB-RII defects are associated with tumours that display the replication error phenomenon. Analysis of the TGF-β-RII 10 bp repeat failed to identify mutations in any colon cancer patients. Analysis of the Bat26 and Bat 40 polyA repeat sequences in the sporadic and HNPCC families revealed that instability is associated with HNPCC tumours harbouring mismatch repair defects and with 20 % of sporadic colon cancer tumours. No correlation between K-ras gene mutations and the RER+ phenotype was detected in sporadic colon cancer tumours.
Mutation screening , Sporadic colon cancer , Instabilities at repeat DNA sequences
Mulcahy, T. M. 1998. Molecular genetic analysis of DNA alterations in Irish colorectal cancer. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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