Base excision repair is the system used from bacteria to man to remove the tens of thousands of endogenous DNA damages produced daily in each human cell. Base excision repair is required for normal mammalian development and defects have been associated with neurological disorders and cancer. In this paper we provide an overview of short patch base excision repair in humans and summarize current knowledge of defects in base excision repair in mouse models and functional studies on short patch base excision repair germ line polymorphisms and their relationship to cancer. The biallelic germ line mutations that result in MUTYH-associated colon cancer are also discussed.
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