microsatellite instability

Definition / meaning of microsatellite instability

A change that occurs in the DNA of certain cells (such as tumor cells) in which the number of repeats of microsatellites (short, repeated sequences of DNA) is different than the number of repeats that was in the DNA when it was inherited. The cause of microsatellite instability may be a defect in the ability to repair mistakes made when DNA is copied in the cell. Also called MSI.

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The Web site of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/)

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