Somatic mutations of the APC gene in colorectal tumors: mutation cluster region in the APC gene.
We examined somatic mutations of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene in 63 colorectal tumors (16 adenomas and 47 carcinomas) developed in familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and non-FAP patients. In addition to loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the APC locus in 30 tumors, 43 other somatic mutations were detected. Twenty-one of them were point mutations; 16 nonsense and two missense mutations, and three occurred in introns at the splicing site. Twenty-two tumors had frameshift mutations due to deletion or insertion; nineteen of them were deletions of one to 31 bp and three were a 1-bp insertion. One tumor had a 1-bp deletion in an intron near the splicing site. Hence, 41 (95%) of 43 mutations resulted in truncation of the APC protein. Over 60% of the somatic mutations in the APC gene were clustered within a small region of exon 15, designated as MCR (mutation cluster region), which accounted for less than 10% of the coding region. Combining these data and the results of LOH, more than 80% of tumors (14 adenomas and 39 carcinomas) had at least one mutation in the APC gene, of which more than 60% (9 adenomas and 23 carcinomas) had two mutations. These results strongly suggest that somatic mutations of the APC gene are associated with development of a great majority of colorectal tumors.