Polyploidy, Aneuploidy and the Evolution of Cancer

  • Lauren M.F. Merlo
  • Li-san Wang
  • John W. Pepper
  • Peter S. Rabinovitch
  • Carlo C. Maley
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 676)


Aneuploidy is a ubiquitous feature of cancer and pre-cancerous lesions, yet its significance is poorly characterized. In this chapter, we review the role of tetraploidy and aneuploidy in progression. We examine how aneuploidy may contribute to the evolutionary dynamics prevalent in neoplastic progression, considering whether aneuploidy itself is selectively neutral or advantageous or if it simply acts as a mechanism for the more rapid accumulation of mutations increasing survival and reproduction of cancer cells. We also review evidence from Barrett’s esophagus, a pre-malignant condition, demonstrating that tetraploidy and aneuploidy are correlated with an increased risk of progression to cancer. Ultimately, we aim provide testable hypotheses and methods for understanding the role of aneuploidy in cancer.


Comparative Genomic Hybridization Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Diploid Cell Copy Number Change Genetic Lesion 


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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lauren M.F. Merlo
    • 5
  • Li-san Wang
    • 1
  • John W. Pepper
    • 2
  • Peter S. Rabinovitch
    • 3
    • 4
  • Carlo C. Maley
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute on Aging Penn Center for BioinformaticsUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  3. 3.Divisions of Human Biology and Public Health SciencesFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterUSA
  4. 4.Department of PathologyUniversity of Washington SeattleUSA
  5. 5.Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis ProgramThe Wistar InstitutePhiladelphiaUSA

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