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Cell Cycle. 2016 Nov 16;15(22):3131-3145. Epub 2016 Sep 16.

Cancer cells that survive checkpoint adaptation contain micronuclei that harbor damaged DNA.

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a Cancer Cell Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Lethbridge , Lethbridge , AB , Canada.


We have examined the relationship between checkpoint adaptation (mitosis with damaged DNA) and micronuclei. Micronuclei in cancer cells are linked to genomic change, and may induce chromothripsis (chromosome shattering). We measured the cytotoxicity of the cancer drug cisplatin in M059K (glioma fibroblasts, IC50 15 μM). Nearly 100% of M059K cells were positive for histone γH2AX staining after 48 h treatment with a cytotoxic concentration of cisplatin. The proportion of micronucleated cells, as confirmed by microscopy using DAPI and lamin A/C staining, increased from 24% to 48%, and the total micronuclei in surviving cells accumulated over time. Promoting entry into mitosis with a checkpoint inhibitor increased the number of micronuclei in cells whereas blocking checkpoint adaptation with a Cdk inhibitor reduced the number of micronuclei. Interestingly, some micronuclei underwent asynchronous DNA replication, relative to the main nuclei, as measured by deoxy-bromo-uracil (BrdU) staining. These micronuclei stained positive for histone γH2AX, which was linked to DNA replication, suggesting that micronuclei arise from checkpoint adaptation and that micronuclei may continue to damage DNA. By contrast the normal cell line WI-38 did not undergo checkpoint adaptation when treated with cisplatin and did not show changes in micronuclei number. These data reveal that the production of micronuclei by checkpoint adaptation is part of a process that contributes to genomic change.


M059K cells; WI-38 cells; checkpoint kinase 1; cisplatin; cyclin dependent kinase 1

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