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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2004 Feb;16(1):49-54.

The good, the bad and the ugly: the practical consequences of centrosome amplification.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Biotech 4, 3d floor, 377 Plantation St, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


Centrosome amplification (the presence of more than two centrosomes at mitosis) is characteristic of many human cancers. Extra centrosomes can cause the assembly of multipolar spindles, which unequally distribute chromosomes to daughter cells; the resulting genetic imbalances may contribute to cellular transformation. However, this raises the question of how a population of cells with centrosome amplification can survive such chaotic mitoses without soon becoming non-viable as a result of chromosome loss. Recent observations indicate that a variety of mechanisms partially mute the practical consequences of centrosome amplification. Consequently, populations of cells propagate with good efficiency, despite centrosome amplification, yet have an elevated mitotic error rate that can fuel the evolution of the transformed state.

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