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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2002;98(1):13-21.

Prolonged culture of normal chorionic villus cells yields ICF syndrome-like chromatin decondensation and rearrangements.

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Human Genetics Program, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


Untreated cultures from normal chorionic villus (CV) or amniotic fluid-derived (AF) samples displayed dramatic cell passage-dependent increases in aberrations in the juxtacentromeric heterochromatin of chromosomes 1 or 16 (1qh or 16qh). They showed negligible levels of chromosomal aberrations in primary culture and no other consistent chromosomal abnormality at any passage. By passage 8 or 9, 82 +/- 7% of the CV metaphases from all eight studied samples exhibited 1qh or 16qh decondensation and 25 +/- 16% had rearrangements in these regions. All six analyzed late-passage AF cultures displayed this regional decondensation and recombination in 54 +/- 16 and 3 +/- 3% of the metaphases, respectively. Late-passage skin fibroblasts did not show these aberrations. The chromosomal anomalies resembled those diagnostic for the ICF syndrome (immunodeficiency, centromeric region instability, and facial anomalies). ICF patients have constitutive hypomethylation at satellite 2 DNA (Sat2) in 1qh and 16qh, generally as the result of mutations in the DNA methyltransferase gene DNMT3B. At early and late passages, CV DNA was hypomethylated and AF DNA was hypermethylated both globally and at Sat2. DNMT1, DNMT3A, or DNMT3B RNA levels did not differ significantly between CV and AF cultures or late and early passages. The high degree of methylation of Sat2 in late-passage AF cells indicates that hypomethylation of this repeat is not necessary for 1qh decondensation. Sat2 hypomethylation may nonetheless favor 1qh and 16qh anomalies because CV cultures, with their Sat2 hypomethylation, displayed 1qh and 16qh decondensation and rearrangements at significantly lower passage numbers than did AF cultures. Also, CV cultures had much higher ratios of ICF-like rearrangements to heterochromatin decondensation in chromosomes 1 and 16. These cultures may serve as models to help elucidate the biological consequences of cancer-associated satellite DNA hypomethylation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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