Telomere dysfunction and loss of p53 cooperate in defective mitotic segregation of chromosomes in cancer cells
Pantic, M.; Zimmermann, S.; El Daly, H.; Opitz, O.G.; Popp, S.; Boukamp, P.; Martens, U.M.
Oncogene 25(32): 4413-4420
ISSN/ISBN: 0950-9232 PMID: 16547498 DOI: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209486
Aneuploidy is a fundamental principle of many cancer cells and is mostly related to defects in mitotic segregation of chromosomes. Many solid tumors as well as some preneoplastic lesions have been shown to contain polyploid chromosome numbers. The exact mechanisms behind whole-genome duplications are not known but have been linked to compromised mitotic checkpoint genes. We now report that the telomere checkpoint plays a key role for polyploidy in colon cancer cells. Telomerase suppression by a dominant-negative mutant of hTERT and consecutive telomere dysfunction in wild-type HCT116 colon cancer cells resulted in only minor stable chromosomal alterations. However, higher ploidy levels with up to 350 chromosomes were found when the cell-cycle checkpoint proteins p53 or p21 were absent. These findings indicate that telomere dysfunction in the absence of cell-cycle control may explain the high frequency of alterations in chromosome numbers found in many solid tumors.