Causes and consequences of aneuploidy in cancer

Nat Rev Genet. 2012 Jan 24;13(3):189-203. doi: 10.1038/nrg3123.


Genetic instability, which includes both numerical and structural chromosomal abnormalities, is a hallmark of cancer. Whereas the structural chromosome rearrangements have received substantial attention, the role of whole-chromosome aneuploidy in cancer is much less well-understood. Here we review recent progress in understanding the roles of whole-chromosome aneuploidy in cancer, including the mechanistic causes of aneuploidy, the cellular responses to chromosome gains or losses and how cells might adapt to tolerate these usually detrimental alterations. We also explore the role of aneuploidy in cellular transformation and discuss the possibility of developing aneuploidy-specific therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aneuploidy*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Chromosomal Instability*
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy