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J Cell Biochem. 2006 Aug 15;98(6):1424-35.

Cancer progression by non-clonal chromosome aberrations.

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  • 1Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA.


The establishment of the correct conceptual framework is vital to any scientific discipline including cancer research. Influenced by hematologic cancer studies, the current cancer concept focuses on the stepwise patterns of progression as defined by specific recurrent genetic aberrations. This concept has faced a tough challenge as the majority of cancer cases follow non-linear patterns and display stochastic progression. In light of the recent discovery that genomic instability is directly linked to stochastic non-clonal chromosome aberrations (NCCAs), and that cancer progression can be characterized as a dynamic relationship between NCCAs and recurrent clonal chromosome aberrations (CCAs), we propose that the dynamics of NCCAs is a key element for karyotypic evolution in solid tumors. To support this viewpoint, we briefly discuss various basic elements responsible for cancer initiation and progression within an evolutionary context. We argue that even though stochastic changes can be detected at various levels of genetic organization, such as at the gene level and epigenetic level, it is primarily detected at the chromosomal or genome level. Thus, NCCA-mediated genomic variation plays a dominant role in cancer progression. To further illustrate the involvement of NCCA/CCA cycles in the pattern of cancer evolution, four cancer evolutionary models have been proposed based on the comparative analysis of karyotype patterns of various types of cancer.

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