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Cytogenet Genome Res. 2003;100(1-4):92-100.

Common fragile sites.

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Department of Human Genetics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0618, USA.


Aphidicolin-induced common fragile sites are site-specific gaps or breaks seen on metaphase chromosomes after partial inhibition of DNA synthesis. These fragile sites were first recognized during the early studies of the fragile X syndrome and are induced by the same conditions of folate or thymidylate stress used to induce the fragile X site. Common fragile sites are normally stable in cultured human cells. However, following induction with replication inhibitors, they display a number of characteristics of unstable and highly recombinogenic DNA. From the many studies that have cloned and characterized fragile sites, it is now known that these sites extend over large regions, are associated with genes, exhibit late or delayed replication, and contain regions of high flexibility but are otherwise unremarkable in sequence. Studies showing that fragile sites and their associated genes are frequently deleted or rearranged in cancer cells have clearly demonstrated their importance in genome instability in tumorigenesis. Yet until recently, very little was known about the molecular mechanisms involved in their stability. Recent findings showing that the key checkpoint genes ATR and BRCA1 are critical for genome stability at fragile sites have shed new light on these mechanisms and on the biological significance of common fragile sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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