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Cancer Invest. 2003;21(4):641-58.

Novel perspective: focusing on the X chromosome in reproductive cancers.

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Department of Pathology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan, USA.


In an XX female, one of the two X chromosomes has been inactivated during early embryonic life to achieve a compensation of X-linked gene products between males and females, leaving only one allele of X-linked genes functional. There are some X-linked genes escaping the X-inactivation, i.e., being expressed from both alleles. Escape from X-inactivation varies at different levels; some genes have both alleles active in some women but only one allele active in others, whereas some other genes have both alleles active in neoplastic tissue but only one allele active normally. The X-inactivation may be considered functionally equivalent to a loss of heterozygosity (LOH) for some genes, whereas escape from X-inactivation may be equivalent to functional gene amplification for others. The physiological LOH may make X-linked tumor suppressor genes lose their function more easily, compared with autosomal tumor suppressor genes, thus predisposing women to cancer formation more easily. Moreover, the human X chromosome contains many genes related to cancer or to sex and reproduction. All these properties of the X chromosome suggest that it may play more important roles than any autosomal chromosome in the development and progression of reproductive and urologic cancers.

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