Chromosomal instability--mechanisms and consequences

Mutat Res Genet Toxicol Environ Mutagen. 2015 Nov;793:176-84. doi: 10.1016/j.mrgentox.2015.08.008. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


Chromosomal instability is defined as a state of numerical and/or structural chromosomal anomalies in cells. Numerous studies have documented the incidence of chromosomal instability, which acutely or chronically may lead to accelerated ageing (tissue-wide or even organismal), cancer or other genetic disorders. Potential mechanisms leading to the generation of chromosome-genome instability include erroneous/inefficient DNA repair, chromosome segregation defects, spindle assembly defects, DNA replication stress, telomere shortening/dysfunction - to name a few. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms for chromosomal instability in various human cells and tissues will be useful in elucidating the cause for many age associated diseases including cancer. This approach holds a great promise for the cytogenetic assays not only for prognosis but also for diagnostic purposes in clinical settings. In this review, a multi-dimensional approach has been attempted to portray the complexity behind the incidence of chromosome-genome instability including evolutionary implications at the species level for some of the mechanisms of chromosomal instability.

Keywords: Cellular stress; Chemical exposures; Chromosomal instability; DNA repair; Ionising radiation; Telomeres.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Aberrations / chemically induced*
  • Chromosome Aberrations / radiation effects*
  • Cytogenetic Analysis
  • Disease / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genomic Instability
  • Humans