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Martin J.W.,Queen's University | Yoshimoto M.,Queen's University | Ludkovski O.,University Health Network | Thorner P.S.,Hospital for Sick Children | And 5 more authors.
Cytogenetic and Genome Research | Year: 2010

It has been proposed that regions of microhomology in the human genome could facilitate genomic rearrangements, copy number transitions, and rapid genomic change during tumor progression. To investigate this idea, this study examines the role of repetitive sequence elements, and corresponding syntenic mouse genomic features, in targeting cancer-associated genomic instability of specific regions of the human genome. Automated database-mining algorithms designed to search for frequent copy number transitions and genomic breakpoints were applied to 2 publicly-available online databases and revealed that 6p21-p12 is one of the regions of the human genome most frequently involved in tumor-specific alterations. In these analyses, 6p21-p12 exhibited the highest frequency of genomic amplification in osteosarcomas. Analysis of repetitive elements in regions of homology between human chromosome 6p and the syntenic regions of the mouse genome revealed a strong association between the location of segmental duplications greater than 5 kilobase-pairs and the position of discontinuities at the end of the syntenic region. The presence of clusters of segmental duplications flanking these syntenic regions also correlated with a high frequency of amplification and genomic alteration. Collectively, the experimental findings, in silico analyses, and comparative genomic studies presented here suggest that segmental duplications may facilitate cancer-associated copy number transitions and rearrangements at chromosome 6p21-p12. This process may involve homology-dependent DNA recombination and/or repair, which may also contribute towards the overall plasticity of the human genome. Copyright © 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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