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Having an extra chromosome has a surprising effect on cancer

Smaller tumors, less cancer-driving proteins seen with trisomic cells

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4:31pm, December 7, 2016
chromosome

EXTRA EXTRA  An extra chromosome can help suppress the effects of cancer mutations, new research suggests. The findings may help explain why people with Down syndrome, who have an extra copy of chromosome 21 in their cells, have low cancer rates.

SAN FRANCISCO — Having an extra chromosome may suppress cancer, as long as things don’t get stressful, a new study suggests. The finding may help scientists unravel a paradox: Cells with extra chromosomes grow slower than cells with the usual two copies of each chromosome, but cancer cells, which grow quickly, often have additional chromosomes. Researchers have thought that perhaps extra chromosomes and cancer-causing mutations team up to produce tumors.

Jason Sheltzer, a cell biologist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and colleagues examined the effect of having an extra chromosome in mouse cells that also have cancer-promoting mutations. Cells with an extra copy of a chromosome — known as trisomic cells — grew slower in lab dishes and formed smaller tumors in mice than cells with cancer mutations but no extra chromosomes. Even when trisomic cells carry cancer-associated genes on the extra chromosome, the cells make less

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