Genetic instability and divergence of clonal populations in colon cancer cells in vitro

Laia Masramon, Elisenda Vendrell, Gemma Tarafa, Gabriel Capellà, Rosa Miró, Maria Ribas, Miguel A. Peinado

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47 Citations (Scopus)


The accumulation of multiple chromosomal abnormalities is a characteristic of the majority of colorectal cancers and has been attributed to an underlying chromosomal instability. Genetic instability is considered to have a key role in the generation of genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity in cancer cells. To shed light on the dynamics of chromosomal instability in colon cancer cells, we have analyzed genetic divergence in clonal and subelonal derivates of chromosomally unstable (SW480) and stable (HCT116, LoVo) cell lines. Conventional G-banding karyotyping and arbitrarily primed PCR (AP-PCR) fingerprinting were used to calculate genetic distances among clones and parental cells, and to trace tree-type phylogenies among individual cells and clonal cell populations. SW480 cells showed enhanced karyotypic heterogeneity in clones as compared with parental cells. Moreover, genetic clonal divergence was also increased after two consecutive episodes of single-cell cloning, demonstrating that the homogeneity induced by the bottleneck of cloning is disrupted by genetic instability during clonal expansion and, as a consequence, heterogeneity is restored. These results demonstrate genetic drift in clonal populations originated from isolated cells. The generated cell heterogeneity coupled with selection provides the grounds for the reported feasibility of preneoplastic and neoplastic cells to generate new phenotypic variants with increased evolutionary potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1482
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2006


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Genomic instability
  • Tumor progression


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