A characteristic of cells that contain an abnormality in DNA mismatch repair (see microsatellite). For example, the presence of MSI in colorectal tumor tissue may be used as a marker for germline mutations in one of the DNA mismatch repair genes associated with HNPCC. MSI can also occur sporadically, and in these cases is related to gene hypermethylation. This is an issue in the differential diagnosis of HNPCC. Also called microsatellite instability.