Colon Cancer

Author: Gianpiero Pescarmona
Date: 04/12/2014


Mutant cohesin drives chromosomal instability in early colorectal adenomas. 2014

Chromosome missegregation leads to chromosomal instability (CIN), thought to play a role in cancer development. As cohesin functions in guaranteeing correct chromosome segregation, increasing data suggest its involvement in tumorigenesis. In a screen of a large series of early colorectal adenomas, a precocious step during colorectal tumorigenesis, we identified 11 mutations in SMC1A core cohesin subunit. In addition, we sequenced the SMC1A gene in colorectal carcinomas and we found only one mutation. Finally, the transfection of the SMC1A mutations identified in early adenomas and wild-type SMC1A gene silencing in normal human fibroblasts led to CIN. Our findings that SMC1A mutations decrease from early adenomas to colorectal cancers and that mutations lead to CIN suggest that mutant cohesin could play a pivotal role during colorectal cancer development.


Proper cohesion of sister chromatids is a prerequisite for the correct segregation of chromosomes during cell division. The cohesin multiprotein complex is required for sister chromatid cohesion. This complex is composed partly of two structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins, SMC3 and either SMC1L2 or the protein encoded by this gene. Most of the cohesin complexes dissociate from the chromosomes before mitosis, although those complexes at the kinetochore remain. Therefore, the encoded protein is thought to be an important part of functional kinetochores. In addition, this protein interacts with BRCA1 and is phosphorylated by ATM, indicating a potential role for this protein in DNA repair. This gene, which belongs to the SMC gene family, is located in an area of the X-chromosome that escapes X inactivation.

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