Genetic and epigenetic alterations in colon cancer

Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2002:3:101-28. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genom.3.022502.103043. Epub 2002 Apr 15.


Colorectal cancer affected approximately 135,000 people in the United States in 2001, resulting in 57,000 deaths. Colorectal cancer develops as the result of the progressive accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations that lead to the transformation of normal colonic epithelium to colon adenocarcinoma. The loss of genomic stability is a key molecular and pathophysiologic step in this process and serves to create a permissive environment for the occurrence of alterations in tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes. Alterations in these genes, which include APC, CTNNB1, K-RAS, MADH4/SMAD4, and TGFBR2, appear to promote colon tumorigenesis by perturbing the function of signaling pathways, such as the TGF-ss signaling pathway, or by affecting genes that regulate genomic stability, such as the mutation mismatch repair genes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Signal Transduction