Genomic instability, DNA methylation, and natural selection in colorectal carcinogenesis

Semin Cancer Biol. 1999 Aug;9(4):245-54. doi: 10.1006/scbi.1999.0123.


Neoplastic transformation is increasingly understood in terms of evolutionary mechanisms, and it is now widely accepted that tumor progression involves natural selection of genetic variants occurring in the somatic environment. Here we give a review of data that substantiate this Darwinian view to tumorigenesis, with particular emphasis on recent advances related to colorectal cancer. We specifically focus on the controversies related to genomic instability and DNA methylation, and present a model, which interrelates these phenomena to the basic evolutionary concept of biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutagenesis / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / genetics
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Selection, Genetic*