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“For over a hundred years. We ve known that cancer cells have the wrong number number of chromosomes in them most normal human cells have 46 chromosomes in them and carries the genetic material on them. But cancer cells for unknown reasons. Often have a different number of cancer cells will have 45 chromosomes.


Chromosomes 147 chromosomes cancers in general have a characteristic known as aneuploidy. When they have the wrong number of chromosomes in them and we set out to study what having the wrong number of chromosomes does for a cancer cell. We were able to make and study cells that have the right number of chromosomes or cells that have the wrong number of chromosomes and then we could convert them from normal cells into cancer cells. And then try to study what having the wrong number of chromosomes did to the biology of cancer cells.

What we found i think was really quite surprising we expected that having the wrong number of chromosomes would have a pro tumorigenic effect that the cells that have the wrong number of chromosomes would form very rapidly growing aggressive cancer cells..

But what we found was actually the exact opposite cells that have the wrong number of chromosomes actually grew quite poorly they formed less aggressive tumors. And they didn t grow very well at all and so what this suggests to us is that instead of aneuploidy or the state of having the wrong number of chromosomes promoting aggressive growth in cancer cells. It actually seemed to suppress aggressive growth in cancer cells at the same time. We also found in a second unexpected phenomenon in these cells.

We generated cells that had the wrong number of chromosomes and we allowed them to grow for long periods of time..

What we found was that the chromosome number in these cells kept changing. We found that these cells underwent a rapid evolution in which they changed the number of chromosomes that they had and this evolution. We think could be related to a type of evolution that s going on in the cancers themselves. Where they re evolving to a more aggressive highly proliferative state over time and so we think that what we found is kind of a double edged sword of aneuploidy or having the wrong.

Number of chromosomes in cancer cells..

And this could have important repercussions for the long term evolution development and behavior of cancer cells. And i think it could inform how we think about treating these cancer cells that have the wrong number of chromosomes in them. And what we can do to potentially block this evolution. ” .


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Pre-malignant aneuploid cells grew more slowly and formed smaller tumors than comparable cells with normal chromosome number.

Today in the journal Cancer Cell, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Fellow Jason Sheltzer, Ph.D., and colleagues at CSHL and MIT report surprising results of experiments intended to explore the consequences of having too many or too few chromosomes, a phenomenon that biologists call aneuploidy (AN-you-ploid-ee).

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