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Haematologica. 2010 Dec;95(12):2038-46. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2010.030171. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

Dynamic chromosomal rearrangements in Hodgkin's lymphoma are due to ongoing three-dimensional nuclear remodeling and breakage-bridge-fusion cycles.

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  • 1Manitoba Institute of Cell Biology, University of Manitoba, CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.



Hodgkin's lymphoma is characterized by the presence of mono-nucleated Hodgkin cells and bi- to multi-nucleated Reed-Sternberg cells. We have recently shown telomere dysfunction and aberrant synchronous/asynchronous cell divisions during the transition of Hodgkin cells to Reed-Sternberg cells.1


To determine whether overall changes in nuclear architecture affect genomic instability during the transition of Hodgkin cells to Reed-Sternberg cells, we investigated the nuclear organization of chromosomes in these cells.


Three-dimensional fluorescent in situ hybridization revealed irregular nuclear positioning of individual chromosomes in Hodgkin cells and, more so, in Reed-Sternberg cells. We characterized an increasingly unequal distribution of chromosomes as mono-nucleated cells became multi-nucleated cells, some of which also contained chromosome-poor 'ghost' cell nuclei. Measurements of nuclear chromosome positions suggested chromosome overlaps in both types of cells. Spectral karyotyping then revealed both aneuploidy and complex chromosomal rearrangements: multiple breakage-bridge-fusion cycles were at the origin of the multiple rearranged chromosomes. This conclusion was challenged by super resolution three-dimensional structured illumination imaging of Hodgkin and Reed-Sternberg nuclei. Three-dimensional super resolution microscopy data documented inter-nuclear DNA bridges in multi-nucleated cells but not in mono-nucleated cells. These bridges consisted of chromatids and chromosomes shared by two Reed-Sternberg nuclei. The complexity of chromosomal rearrangements increased as Hodgkin cells developed into multi-nucleated cells, thus indicating tumor progression and evolution in Hodgkin's lymphoma, with Reed-Sternberg cells representing the highest complexity in chromosomal rearrangements in this disease.


This is the first study to demonstrate nuclear remodeling and associated genomic instability leading to the generation of Reed-Sternberg cells of Hodgkin's lymphoma. We defined nuclear remodeling as a key feature of Hodgkin's lymphoma, highlighting the relevance of nuclear architecture in cancer.

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