Aneuploidy and cancer

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Abstract

Numeric aberrations in chromosomes, referred to as aneuploidy, is commonly observed in human cancer. Whether aneuploidy is a cause or consequence of cancer has long been debated. Three lines of evidence now make a compelling case for aneuploidy being a discrete chromosome mutation event that contributes to malignant transformation and progression process. First, precise assay of chromosome aneuploidy in several primary tumors with in situ hybridization and comparative genomic hybridization techniques have revealed that specific chromosome aneusomies correlate with distinct tumor phenotypes. Second, aneuploid tumor cell lines and in vitro transformed rodent cells have been reported to display an elevated rate of chromosome instability, thereby indicating that aneuploidy is a dynamic chromosome mutation event associated with transformation of cells. Third, and most important, a number of mitotic genes regulating chromosome segregation have been found mutated in human cancer cells, implicating such mutations in induction of aneuploidy in tumors. Some of these gene mutations, possibly allowing unequal segregations of chromosomes, also cause tumorigenic transformation of cells in vitro. In this review, the recent publications investigating aneuploidy in human cancers, rate of chromosome instability in aneuploidy tumor cells, and genes implicated in regulating chromosome segregation found mutated in cancer cells are discussed.

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