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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jun 25;99(13):8772-7. Epub 2002 Jun 11.

Short inverted repeats initiate gene amplification through the formation of a large DNA palindrome in mammalian cells.

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  • 1Division of Basic Sciences and Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.


Gene amplification is a common form of genomic instability in a wide variety of organisms and is often associated with tumor progression in mammals. One striking feature of many amplified genes is their organization as large inverted duplications (palindromes). Here, we describe a molecular mechanism for palindrome formation in mammalian cells that is also conserved in protists. We introduced a short (79 or 229 bp) inverted repeat into the genome of Chinese hamster ovary cells and showed that it promoted the formation of a large DNA palindrome after an adjacent DNA double-strand break. This finding suggests that short inverted repeats in the mammalian genome can have a critical role in the initiation of gene amplification. This specific mechanism may provide a novel target for cancer therapies.

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