Adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) is an autosomal dominant disease characterized by the development of hundreds of colorectal adenomatous polyps during the first decades of life. The expression of the disease varies, as the age of onset of colonic cancer and the severity of extracolonic manifestations often differ between affected families. An attenuated form of APC has also been described in which a small number of polyps and a later age of onset of colonic cancer is observed. Cloning of the APC gene has allowed disease-causing mutations in APC families to be identified. Here, we report a novel splice site mutation (a G to T transversion at position +5 of the splice donor site in intron 9) in the APC gene of affected individuals in an Italian family. Characterization of the transcription products from this mutant APC allele revealed that normal splicing was disrupted: a shorter mRNA was expressed in which exon 8 was connected directly to exon 10. This created a shift in the reading frame and the introduction of a stop codon at position 1358. In addition, some normal APC transcript was produced from the mutant allele in lymphoblastoid cells. A comparison of the clinical features of affected members of this family with four unrelated Italian APC kindreds, in which the same AAAAG deletion at position 3926 has been found, showed a significant difference in the onset of disease symptoms and in the age of death attributable to colorectal cancer. Inefficient exon skipping may be, at least in part, responsible for the delay in the development of the disease in the reported family.
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