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Genes Dev. 2009 Nov 1;23(21):2461-77. doi: 10.1101/gad.1829209.

Endoreplication: polyploidy with purpose.

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  • 1Curriculum in Genetics and Molecular Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


A great many cell types are necessary for the myriad capabilities of complex, multicellular organisms. One interesting aspect of this diversity of cell type is that many cells in diploid organisms are polyploid. This is called endopolyploidy and arises from cell cycles that are often characterized as "variant," but in fact are widespread throughout nature. Endopolyploidy is essential for normal development and physiology in many different organisms. Here we review how both plants and animals use variations of the cell cycle, termed collectively as endoreplication, resulting in polyploid cells that support specific aspects of development. In addition, we discuss briefly how endoreplication occurs in response to certain physiological stresses, and how it may contribute to the development of cancer. Finally, we describe the molecular mechanisms that support the onset and progression of endoreplication.

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