Causes of oncogenic chromosomal translocation

Trends Genet. 2006 Jan;22(1):46-55. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2005.10.002. Epub 2005 Oct 28.


Non-random chromosomal translocations are frequently associated with a variety of cancers, particularly hematologic malignancies and childhood sarcomas. In addition to their diagnostic utility, chromosomal translocations are increasingly being used in the clinic to guide therapeutic decisions. However, the mechanisms that cause these translocations remain poorly understood. Illegitimate V(D)J recombination, class switch recombination, homologous recombination, non-homologous end-joining and genome fragile sites all have potential roles in the production of non-random chromosomal translocations. In addition, mutations in DNA-repair pathways have been implicated in the production of chromosomal translocations in humans, mice and yeast. Although initially surprising, the identification of these same oncogenic chromosomal translocations in peripheral blood from healthy individuals strongly suggests that the translocation is not sufficient to induce malignant transformation, and that complementary mutations are required to produce a frank malignancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Class Switching
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Oncogenes*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Translocation, Genetic*