Telomere dysfunction and chromosome structure modulate the contribution of individual chromosomes in abnormal nuclear morphologies

J. Pampalona, D. Soler, A. Genescà, L. Tusell

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40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay has emerged as a biomarker of chromosome damage relevant to cancer. Although it was initially developed to measure micronuclei, it is also useful for measuring nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds. Abnormal nuclear morphologies are frequently observed in malignant tissues and short-term tumour cell cultures. Changes in chromosome structure and number resulting from chromosome instability are important factors in oncogenesis. Telomeres have become key players in the initiation of chromosome instability related to carcinogenesis by means of breakage-fusion-bridge cycles. To better understand the connection between telomere dysfunction and the appearance of abnormal nuclear morphologies, we have characterised the presence of micronuclei, nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds in human mammary primary epithelial cells. These cells can proliferate beyond the Hayflick limit by spontaneously losing expression of the p16INK4a protein. Progressive telomere shortening leads to the loss of the capping function, and the appearance of end-to-end chromosome fusions that can enter into breakage-fusion-bridge cycles generating massive chromosomal instability. In human mammary epithelial cells, different types of abnormal nuclear morphologies were observed, however only nucleoplasmatic bridges and buds increased significantly with population doublings. Fluorescent in situ hybridisation using centromeric and painting specific probes for chromosomes with eroded telomeres has revealed that these chromosomes are preferentially included in the different types of abnormal nuclear morphologies observed, thus reflecting their common origin. Accordingly, real-time imaging of cell divisions enabled us to determine that anaphase bridge resolution was mainly through chromatin breakage and the formation of symmetric buds in daughter nuclei. Few micronuclei emerged in this cell system thus validating the scoring of nucleoplasmic bridges and nuclear buds for measuring chromosome instability in telomere-dysfunction cell environments. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-22
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Volume683
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Anaphase bridges
  • Chromosome instability
  • HMEC
  • Nuclear buds
  • Telomeres

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