Tetraploidy/aneuploidy and stem cells in cancer promotion: The role of chromosome passenger proteins



While polyploidy, a state of having fully duplicated sets of chromosomes per cell, has been described in normally developing bone marrow megakaryocytes or as an adaptive response in other cell types, aneuploidy is never detected in normal cells. Tetraploidy or aneuploidy can be induced by several signals and it is highly prevalent in different forms of cancers, suggesting a role for this cell cycle state in promoting cellular transformation. Investigations suggested that loss of heterozygosity of cancer-related genes in stem cells might contribute to genetic instability in progeny cells and to subsequent cancer development. Deregulated expression of chromosome passenger proteins, such as Aurora kinases or Survivin, is a hallmark of various cancers, and experimentally induced changes in these regulators can promote tetraploidy or aneuploidy and loss of heterozygosity. Our studies described an induction of tetraploidy/aneuploidy by a stable form of Aurora-B, leading to acquisition of transformation properties. It is intriguing to speculate that in some cancers, tetraploidy/aneuploidy induced by deregulated expression of a mitotic regulator represents a primary event that leads to unbalanced expression of a cluster of crucial genes and to cellular transformation. J.Cell.Physiol. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.