Mismatch repair pathway: molecules, functions, and role in colorectal carcinogenesis

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Abstract

The microsatellite instability (MSI) pathway is one of the important mutational pathways that play a critical role in colorectal carcinogenesis. About 15% of colorectal cancers (CRCs) are characterized by MSI. MSI tumors usually arise because of a genetic defect in mismatch repair (MMR) genes, one of the main DNA-repairing systems. MMR is a highly conserved biological pathway that plays a key role in maintaining genomic stability by correcting the base–base mismatches and insertion/deletion mispairs generated during DNA replication and recombination. Escherichia coli MutS and MutL and their eukaryotic homologs, MutSα and MutLα, respectively, are key players in MMR-associated genome maintenance. Mutations in at least five pivotal genes of MMR, namely, in those encoding mutS homolog 2 (MSH2), mutL homolog 1 (MLH1), mutS homolog 6 (MSH6), postmeiotic segregation increased 1 (PMS1), and postmeiotic segregation, increased 2 (PMS2) have been found in CRC, highlighting the importance of understanding the basic structure and functions of the essential molecules that make up the MMR system. In this review, we have attempted to focus on this aspect, that is, the role that MMR molecules play in CRC carcinogenesis.

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