A chromosome rearrangement is a structural change in a chromosome such as a deletion, translocation, inversion, or gene amplification. Chromosome rearrangements
Chromosomes and genes
A chromosome is a microscopic structure which is composed of proteins and DNA and is found in every cell of the body. Each cell of the body, except for the egg and the sperm cells, contains 23 pairs of chromosomes and 46 chromosomes in total. All cells of the body except for the egg and sperm cells are called the somatic cells. The egg and sperm cells each contain 23 chromosomes. Both males and females have 22 pairs of chromosomes, called the autosomes, that are numbered one to twenty-two in order of decreasing size. The final pair of chromosomes, called the sex chromosomes, determine the sex of the individual. Women possess two identical chromosomes called the X chromosomes while men possess one X chromosome and one Y chromosome.
Each type of chromosome contains different genes that are found at specific locations along the chromosome. Men and women possess two of each type of autosomal gene since they inherit one of each type from each parent. Each gene contains the instructions for the production of a particular protein. The proteins produced by genes have many functions and work together to create the traits of the human body, such as hair and eye color, and are involved in controlling the body's basic functions. Some genes produce proteins that are involved in controlling the growth cycle of the cell and are therefore involved in preventing the development of cancer.
Types of chromosome rearrangements
Sometimes a spontaneous break or breaks occur in a chromosome or chromosomes in a particular cell and can result in a deletion, inversion, or translocation. If the break or breaks result in the loss of a piece of chromosome, it is called a deletion. An inversion results when a segment of chromosome breaks off, is reversed (inverted), and is reinserted into its original location. When a piece of one chromosome is exchanged with a piece from another chromosome it is called a translocation.
Sometimes a small segment of chromosome is amplified, which results in the presence of multiple copies of that section of the chromosome. In most cases the segment of the chromosome that is duplicated contains only one gene, although it is possible for more than one gene to be amplified. Sometimes amplified genes form a separate and unique chromosome and sometimes they are located within an otherwise normal chromosome.
Chromosome rearrangements and cancer
A chromosome rearrangement can delete or disrupt the functioning of genes that are located on the chromosomal
THE TRANSFORMATION OF A NORMAL CELL INTO A CANCEROUS CELL.
The process by which a normal cell is transformed into a cancerous cell is a complex, multi-step process involving a breakdown in the normal cell cycle. Normally a somatic cell goes through a growth cycle during which it produces new cells. The process of cell division is necessary for the growth of tissues and organs of the body and for the replacement of damaged cells.
Cell division is tightly regulated by genes. Normal cells have a limited lifespan and only go through the cell cycle a certain number of times. Genes regulate the cell cycle by producing regulatory proteins. Different types of regulatory proteins regulate cell growth and division in different types of cells. For example, a skin cell may be regulated by a different combination of proteins than a breast cell or a liver cell.
A cell that loses control of its cell cycle and replicates out of control is called a cancer cell. Cancer cells undergo many cell divisions, often at a quicker rate than normal cells, and do not have a limited lifespan. They also have loss of apoptosis, or cell death, which is characteristic of a normal cell. This allows them to eventually overwhelm the body with a large number of abnormal cells and hurt the functioning of the normal cells.
A cell becomes cancerous only after changes or deletions occur in a number of genes that are involved in the regulation of its cell cycle. However, a change or deletion of one regulatory gene can result in the change or deletion of other regulatory genes.
Proto-oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes are the two most common types of genes involved in regulating
Proto-oncogenes produce proteins that are largely involved in stimulating the growth and division of cells in a controlled manner. A change in a proto-oncogene can convert it into an oncogene. An oncogene produces an abnormal protein, which is involved in stimulating uncontrolled cell growth. Only one proto-oncogene of a pair needs to be changed into an oncogene for it to promote the transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous cell.
A chromosome rearrangement involving a tumor-suppressor gene or proto-oncogene can contribute to the transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous cell. Certain types of chromosome rearrangements are found more commonly in cancers of certain types of cells. This is because these chromosome rearrangements involve genes that regulate the cell cycle in those specific cells. More than one chromosome rearrangement is usually present in a particular cancer cell since it is necessary for more than one regulatory gene to be altered during the transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous cell. Different types of chromosome rearrangements contribute to the formation of cancer cells in different ways. Researchers don't always know how a chromosome rearrangement contributes to the development of cancer.
How specific types of rearrangements contribute to the development of cancer
A deletion of a piece of chromosome that contains a tumor suppressor gene can contribute to the transformation of a normal cell into a cancerous cell. If both copies of a tumor suppressor gene are deleted or changed then little or no tumor suppressor protein is produced. This in turn can impact the regulation of the cell cycle and contribute to the transformation of the normal cell.
A deletion of a segment of chromosome 13, for example, can result in the loss of a tumor-suppressor gene that helps to prevent an eye cancer called retinoblastoma. If both retinoblastoma tumor-suppressor genes are deleted or changed in one of the cells of the eye then that cell can become cancerous.
A translocation involving a proto-oncogene can result in its conversion into an oncogene which can contribute to the development of cancer. A translocation involving a proto-oncogene results in the transfer of the proto-onco-gene from its normal location on a chromosome to a different location on another chromosome. Sometimes this results in the transfer of a proto-oncogene next to an activating gene. This activating gene abnormally activates the proto-oncogene and converts it into an oncogene. When this oncogene is present in a cell, it contributes to uncontrolled cell growth and the development of cancer.
For example, the translocation of the c-myc protooncogene from its normal location on chromosome eight to a location on chromosome 14 results in the abnormal activation of c-myc. This type of translocation is involved in the development of a type of cancer called Burkitt's lymphoma. The translocated c-myc protooncogene is found in the cancer cells of approximately 85% of people with Burkitt's lymphoma.
A translocation involving a proto-oncogene can also result in the fusion of the proto-oncogene with another
An inversion, like a translocation, can result in the creation of an oncogene through either the activation of a proto-oncogene or the creation of a fusion gene. An inversion involving a proto-oncogene results in the movement of the gene to another location on the same chromosome. For example, an inversion of chromosome ten can move a proto-oncogene called RET and cause it to fuse with a gene called ELEI or a gene called H4. The fusion of RET with either of these genes creates an oncogene. When the RET oncogene is present in a thyroid cell it promotes the transformation of that cell into a cancerous cell.
Gene amplification can also contribute to the development of cancer. Amplification of a segment of chromosome that contains a proto-oncogene can result in the formation of many copies of a proto-oncogene. Each copy of the proto-oncogene produces protein that is involved in stimulating cell growth. This can result in a significant increase in the amount of protein produced, which can promote uncontrolled cell growth. Multiple copies of proto-oncogenes are found in many tumors.
See Also Cancer genetics
Vogelstein, Bert and Kenneth Kinzler, eds. The Genetic Basis of Human Cancer New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
"Chromosome Rearrangements" University of Wisconsin- Madison Department of Genetics 3 July 2001 <http://www1.genetics.wisc.edu/466/Fall98/lect08/index.html>.
"The Genetics of Cancer—an Overview" Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. 17 Feb. 1999. 29 June 2001 <http://www.cancergenetics.org/gncavrvu.htm>.
Lisa Andres, M.S., CGC
—A microscopic structure, made of a complex of proteins and DNA, that is found within each cell of the body.
—A piece missing from a chromosome.
—A building block of inheritance, made up of a compound called DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and containing the instructions for the production of a particular protein. Each gene is found on a specific location on a chromosome.
—When multiple copies of a small segment of chromosome containing one or more genes are present as a separate chromosome or as part of an otherwise normal chromosome.
—A piece of a chromosome that was removed from the chromosome, inverted, and reinserted into the same location on the chromosome.
—Cancer of the blood-forming organs which results in an overproduction of white blood cells.
—Cancer involving cells of the immune system.
—A changed proto-oncogene that promotes uncontrolled cell division and growth.
—A substance produced by a gene that is involved in creating the traits of the human body such as hair and eye color or is involved in controlling the basic functions of the human body.
—A gene involved in stimulating the normal growth and division of cells in a controlled manner.
—All the cells of the body except for the egg and sperm cells.
—An exchange of a piece of one chromosome with a piece from another chromosome.
—Gene involved in controlling normal cell growth and preventing cancer.