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CDC20 is a co-activator of the anaphase promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) and is essential for mitotic progression. APC/CCDC20 is inhibited by the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC), which prevents premature separation of sister chromatids and aneuploidy in daughter cells. Although overexpression of CDC20 is common in many cancers, oncogenic mutations have never been identified in humans. Using whole exome sequencing, we identified heterozygous missense CDC20 variants (L151R and N331K) that segregate with cancer in two families. Characterization of these mutants showed they retain APC/C activation activity but show reduced binding to BUBR1, a component of the SAC. Expression of L151R and N331K promoted mitotic slippage in HeLa cells and primary skin fibroblasts derived from carriers. CRISPR/Cas9 was used to generate mice carrying N331K. Homozygous mice carrying N331K were non-viable, however, heterozygotes displayed accelerated oncogenicity in Myc-driven cancers. These findings highlight an unappreciated role for CDC20 variants as tumor promoting genes in humans.

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