Telomeres of tumor cells form telomeric aggregates (TAs) within the three-dimensional (3D) interphase nucleus. Some of these TAs represent end-to-end chromosomal fusions and may subsequently initiate breakage–bridge–fusion cycles. Wild-type (wt) and myc box II mutant (mt) Myc induce different types of genomic instability when conditionally expressed in mouse proB cells (Ba/F3). Only wt Myc overexpressing Ba/F3 cells are capable of tumor formation in severe combined immunodeficient mice. In this study, we investigated whether telomere dysfunction leading to TA formation is linked to the genetic changes that permit wt c-Myc-dependent transformation of Ba/F3 cells. To this end, we examined the 3D organization of telomeres after the deregulated expression of deletion myc boxII mutant (Δ106) or wt Myc. Δ106-Myc overexpression did not induce TAs, whereas wt-Myc deregulation did. Instead, Δ106-Myc remodelled the 3D telomeric organization such that telomeres aligned in the center of the 3D interphase nucleus forming a telomeric disk owing to a Δ106-induced G1/S cell cycle arrest. In contrast, wt-Myc overexpression led to distorted telomere distribution and TA formation. Analysis of chromosomal alterations using spectral karyotyping confirmed Δ106-Myc and wt-Myc-associated genomic instability. A significant number of chromosomal end-to-end fusions indicative of telomere dysfunction were noted in wt-Myc-expressing cells only. This study suggests that TAs may play a fundamental role in Myc-induced tumorigenesis and provides a novel way to dissect tumor initiation.
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We thank Dr Ludger Klewes and Dr Ed Rector for assistance with FACS analysis, and Mary Cheang (Biostatistics Unit) for statistical analyses. We acknowledge support from CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). AC and LW were recipients of a Strategic Training Program stipend from CIHR.
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Caporali, A., Wark, L., Vermolen, B. et al. Telomeric aggregates and end-to-end chromosomal fusions require myc box II. Oncogene 26, 1398–1406 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.onc.1209928
- three-dimensional nuclear organization
- telomere aggregates
- genomic instability
- telomeric fusions
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