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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Aug;17(8):4774-81.

Illegitimate recombination leading to allelic loss and unbalanced translocation in p53-mutated human lymphoblastoid cells.

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Division of Genetics and Mutagenesis, National Institute of Health Sciences, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan.


Allelic loss and translocation are critical mutational events in human tumorigenesis. Allelic loss, which is usually identified as loss of heterozygosity (LOH), is frequently observed at tumor suppressor loci in various kinds of human tumors. It is generally thought to result from deletion or mitotic recombination between homologous chromosomes. In this report, we demonstrate that illegitimate (nonhomologous) recombination strongly contributes to the generation of allelic loss in p53-mutated cells. Spontaneous and X-ray-induced LOH mutations at the heterozygous thymidine kinase (tk) gene, which is located on the long arm of chromosome 17, from normal (TK6) and p53-mutated (WTK-1) human lymphoblastoid cells were cytogenetically analyzed by chromosome 17 painting. We observed unbalanced translocations in 53% of LOH mutants spontaneously arising from WTK-1 cells but none spontaneously arising from TK6 cells. We postulate that illegitimate recombination was occurring between nonhomologous chromosomes after DNA replication, leading to allelic loss and unbalanced translocations in p53-mutated WTK-1 cells. X-ray irradiation, which induces DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs), enhanced the generation of unbalanced translocation more efficiently in WTK-1 than in TK6 cells. This observation implicates the wild-type p53 protein in the regulation of homologous recombination and recombinational DNA repair of DSBs and suggests a possible mechanism by which loss of p53 function may cause genomic instability.

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