Aneuploidy is a common feature of cancer cells, and is believed to play a critical role in tumorigenesis and cancer progression. Most cancer cells also exhibit high rates of mitotic chromosome mis-segregation, a phenomenon known as chromosomal instability, which leads to high variability of the karyotype. Here, we describe the nature, nuances, and implications of cancer karyotypic diversity. Moreover, we summarize recent studies aimed at identifying the mitotic defects that may be responsible for inducing chromosome mis-segregation in cancer cells. These include kinetochore attachment errors, spindle assembly checkpoint dysfunction, mitotic spindle defects, and other cell division inaccuracies. Finally, we discuss how such mitotic errors generate karyotypic diversity in cancer cells.
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