Mutations in MMR (DNA mismatch repair) genes underlie HNPCC (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer) and also a significant proportion of sporadic colorectal cancers. MMR maintains genome stability and suppresses tumour formation by correcting DNA replication errors and by mediating an apoptotic response to DNA damage. Analysis of mouse lines with MMR missense mutations demonstrates that these MMR functions can be separated and allows the assessment of their individual roles in tumour suppression. These studies in mice indicate that, although the increased mutation rates caused by MMR defects are sufficient to drive tumorigenesis, both functions co-operate in tumour suppression.

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