In the past two decades, multiple studies have been undertaken to elucidate the genetic cause of the predisposition to mismatch repair (MMR)-proficient nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (CRC). Here, we present the proposed candidate genes according to their involvement in specific pathways considered relevant in hereditary CRC and/or colorectal carcinogenesis. To date, only pathogenic variants in RPS20 may be convincedly linked to hereditary CRC. Nevertheless, accumulated evidence supports the involvement in the CRC predisposition of other genes, including MRE11, BARD1, POT1, BUB1B, POLE2, BRF1, IL12RB1, PTPN12, or the epigenetic alteration of PTPRJ. The contribution of the identified candidate genes to familial/early onset MMR-proficient nonpolyposis CRC, if any, is extremely small, suggesting that other factors, such as the accumulation of low risk CRC alleles, shared environmental exposures, and/or gene-environmental interactions, may explain the missing heritability in CRC.
Keywords: cancer genetics; cancer predisposition; cancer susceptibility; colorectal cancer; familial colorectal cancer type X; gene identification; hereditary cancer; mismatch repair proficiency; molecular pathways.