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Cancer Lett. 2003 May 15;194(2):173-82.

Telomere-driven genomic instability in cancer cells.

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CEA-DSV/DRR/LRO, 18 Route du Panorama, 92265 Cedex, Fontenay aux Roses, France.


Telomeres, the ends of linear chromosomes, play a major role in the maintenance of genome integrity. Telomerase or alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanisms exist in most cancer cells in order to stabilize telomere length by the addition of telomeric repeats. Telomere loss can be dramatically mutagenic. Chromosomes lacking one telomere remain unstable until they are capped, generating chromosomal instability, gene amplification via breakage/fusion/bridge (B/F/B) cycles and resulting in chromosome imbalances. The chronology of the occurrence of gene amplification and chromosome imbalances detected in human tumors is still unknown. All of the aberrations that occur prior to, during or after activation of a telomere maintenance mechanism promote the development of cancer.

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