Mitotic cell death by chromosome fragmentation

Joshua B. Stevens, Guo Liu, Steven W. Bremer, Karen J. Ye, Wenxin Xu, Jing Xu, Yi Sun, Sheng Wu Gen, Sureyya Savasan, Stephen A. Krawetz, Christine J. Ye, Henry H.Q. Heng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Cell death plays a key role for both cancer progression and treatment. In this report, we characterize chromosome fragmentation, a new type of cell death that takes place during metaphase where condensed chromosomes are progressively degraded. It occurs spontaneously without any treatment in instances such as inherited status of genomic instability, or it can be induced by treatment with chemotherapeutics. It is observed within cell lines, tumors, and lymphocytes of cancer patients. The process of chromosome fragmentation results in loss of viability, but is apparently nonapoptotic and further differs from cellular death defined by mitotic catastrophe. Chromosome fragmentation represents an efficient means of induced cell death and is a clinically relevant biomarker of mitotic cell death. Chromosome fragmentation serves as a method to eliminate genomically unstable cells. Paradoxically, this process could result in genome aberrations common in cancer. The characterization of chromosome fragmentation may also shine light on the mechanism of chromosomal pulverization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7686-7694
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2007


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