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Hum Genet. 2005 Mar;116(4):300-10. Epub 2005 Jan 27.

Molecular distinction between true centric fission and pericentric duplication-fission.

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Chromosome Research Laboratory, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Department of Paediatrics, Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, VIC, 3052, Australia.


Centromere (centric) fission, also known as transverse or lateral centric misdivision, has been defined as the splitting of one functional centromere of a metacentric or submetacentric chromosome to produce two derivative centric chromosomes. It has been observed in a range of organisms and has been ascribed an important role in karyotype evolution; however, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. We have investigated four cases of apparent centric fission in humans. Two cases show a missing chromosome 22 or 18 that is replaced by two centric ring products, a third case shows two chromosome-10-derived telocentric chromosomes, whereas a fourth case involves the formation of two chromosome-18-derived isochromosomes. In all four cases, results of gross cytogenetic and fluorescence in situ hybridisation analyses were consistent with a simple centric fission event. However, detailed molecular analyses provided evidence in support of centromere duplication as a predisposing mechanism for the observed chromosomal breakage in two of the cases. Results for the third case are consistent with direct centric fission not involving centromere pre-duplication as the likely mechanism. Insufficient material has precluded the further study of the fourth case. The data provide the first molecular evidence for centromere pre-duplication as a possible mechanism to explain the classically assumed simple "centric fission" events in clinical cytogenetics, karyotype evolution and speciation.

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