Chromosomal aberrations: formation, identification and distribution

Mutat Res. 2002 Jul 25;504(1-2):17-36. doi: 10.1016/s0027-5107(02)00076-3.


Chromosomal aberrations (CA) are the microscopically visible part of a wide spectrum of DNA changes generated by different repair mechanisms of DNA double strand breaks (DSB). The method of fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) has uncovered unexpected complexities of CA and this will lead to changes in our thinking about the origin of CA. The inter- and intrachromosomal distribution of breakpoints is generally not random. CA breakpoints occur preferentially in active chromatin. Deviations from expected interchromosomal distributions of breakpoints may result from the arrangement of chromosomes in the interphase nucleus and/or from different sensitivities of chromosomes with respect to the formation of CA. Telomeres and interstitial telomere repeat like sequences play an important role in the formation of CA. Subtelomeric regions are hot spots for the formation of symmetrical exchanges between homologous chromatids and cryptic aberrations in these regions are associated with human congenital abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosome Breakage / genetics
  • Chromosome Painting / methods*
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Humans
  • Telomere / genetics