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Neoplasia. 2013 Nov;15(11):1301-13.

Alternative lengthening of telomeres: recurrent cytogenetic aberrations and chromosome stability under extreme telomere dysfunction.

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1
Laboratory of Genetics and Gene Therapy, Center of Basic Research II, Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece.

Abstract

Human tumors using the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) exert high rates of telomere dysfunction. Numerical chromosomal aberrations are very frequent, and structural rearrangements are widely scattered among the genome. This challenging context allows the study of telomere dysfunction-driven chromosomal instability in neoplasia (CIN) in a massive scale. We used molecular cytogenetics to achieve detailed karyotyping in 10 human ALT neoplastic cell lines. We identified 518 clonal recombinant chromosomes affected by 649 structural rearrangements. While all human chromosomes were involved in random or clonal, terminal, or pericentromeric rearrangements and were capable to undergo telomere healing at broken ends, a differential recombinatorial propensity of specific genomic regions was noted. We show that ALT cells undergo epigenetic modifications rendering polycentric chromosomes functionally monocentric, and because of increased terminal recombinogenicity, they generate clonal recombinant chromosomes with interstitial telomeric repeats. Losses of chromosomes 13, X, and 22, gains of 2, 3, 5, and 20, and translocation/deletion events involving several common chromosomal fragile sites (CFSs) were recurrent. Long-term reconstitution of telomerase activity in ALT cells reduced significantly the rates of random ongoing telomeric and pericentromeric CIN. However, the contribution of CFS in overall CIN remained unaffected, suggesting that in ALT cells whole-genome replication stress is not suppressed by telomerase activation. Our results provide novel insights into ALT-driven CIN, unveiling in parallel specific genomic sites that may harbor genes critical for ALT cancerous cell growth.

PMID:
24339742
PMCID:
PMC3858894
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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