Chromothripsis

KRO-mo-THRIP-sis n.

chromosomes

P. Stephens et al/Cell 2011

The catastrophic shattering of a chromosome, which can spark cancer development. All or part of a chromosome may break into pieces, some of which reassemble. Leftover fragments can form DNA circles (colored dots, above) that replicate wildly. If the circles contain cancer-causing genes, their proliferation fuels tumor growth. Disintegrating chromosomes may be the cause of many childhood cases of medulloblastoma, an often-deadly brain cancer, researchers in Germany and England report in the March 14 Cell

Tina Hesman Saey

Tina Hesman Saey is the senior staff writer and reports on molecular biology. She has a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University.

More Stories from Science News on Genetics

From the Nature Index

Paid Content