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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Jan;5(1):45-54.

From polyploidy to aneuploidy, genome instability and cancer.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Oncology of The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Room M621A, 44 Binney Street Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Polyploidy is a frequent phenomenon in the eukaryotic world, but the biological properties of polyploid cells are not well understood. During evolution, polyploidy is thought to be an important mechanism that contributes to speciation. Polyploid, usually non-dividing, cells are formed during development in otherwise diploid organisms. A growing amount of evidence indicates that polyploid cells also arise during a variety of pathological conditions. Genetic instability in these cells might provide a route to aneuploidy and thereby contribute to the development of cancer.

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