Author(s): Grosovsky AJ
Many tumors exhibit extensive chromosomal instability, but karyotypic alterations will be significant in carcinogenesis only by influencing specific oncogenes or tumor suppressor loci within the affected chromosomal segments. In this investigation, the specificity of chromosomal rearrangements attributable to radiation-induced genomic instability is detailed, and a qualitative and quantitative correspondence with mutagenesis is demonstrated. Chromosomal abnormalities preferentially occurred near the site of prior rearrangements, resulting in complex abnormalities, or near the centromere, resulting in deletion or translocation of the entire chromosome arm, but no case of an interstitial chromosomal deletion was observed. Evidence for chromosomal instability in the progeny of irradiated cells also included clonal karyotypic heterogeneity. The persistence of instability was demonstrated for at least 80 generations by elevated mutation rates at the heterozygous, autosomal marker locus tk. Among those TK- mutants that showed a loss of heterozygosity, a statistically significant increase in mutation rate was observed only for those in which the loss of heterozygosity encompasses the telomeric region. This mutational specificity corresponds with the prevalence of terminal deletions, additions, and translocations, and the absence of interstitial deletions, in karyotypic analysis. Surprisingly, the elevated rate of TK- mutations is also partially attributable to intragenic base substitutions and small deletions, and DNA sequence analysis of some of these mutations is presented. Complex chromosomal abnormalities appear to be the most significant indicators of a high rate of persistent genetic instability which correlates with increased rates of both intragenic and chromosomal-scale mutations at tk.