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Cancer Res. 2013 Nov 1;73(21):6401-12. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0749. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

A transcriptional and metabolic signature of primary aneuploidy is present in chromosomally unstable cancer cells and informs clinical prognosis.

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Author's Affiliation: David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Aneuploidy is invariably associated with poor proliferation of primary cells, but the specific contributions of abnormal karyotypes to cancer, a disease characterized by aneuploidy and dysregulated proliferation, remain unclear. In this study, I demonstrate that the transcriptional alterations caused by aneuploidy in primary cells are also present in chromosomally unstable cancer cell lines, but the same alterations are not common to all aneuploid cancers. Chromosomally unstable cancer lines and aneuploid primary cells also share an increase in glycolytic and TCA cycle flux. The biological response to aneuploidy is associated with cellular stress and slow proliferation, and a 70-gene signature derived from primary aneuploid cells was defined as a strong predictor of increased survival in several cancers. Inversely, a transcriptional signature derived from clonal aneuploidy in tumors correlated with high mitotic activity and poor prognosis. Together, these findings suggested that there are two types of aneuploidy in cancer: one is clonal aneuploidy, which is selected during tumor evolution and associated with robust growth, and the other is subclonal aneuploidy caused by chromosomal instability (CIN). Subclonal aneuploidy more closely resembles the stressed state of primary aneuploid cells, yet CIN is not benign; a subset of genes upregulated in high-CIN cancers predict aggressive disease in human patients in a proliferation-independent manner.

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