Genome instability (Journal of molecular oncology and Research)


Genome instability (also genetic instability or genomic instability) refers to a high frequency of mutations within the genome of a cellular lineage. These mutations can include changes in nucleic acid sequences, chromosomal rearrangements or aneuploidy. Genome instability does occur in bacteria. In multicellular organisms genome instability is central to carcinogenesis,and in humans it is also a factor in some neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or the neuromuscular disease myotonic dystrophy.The sources of genome instability have only recently begun to be elucidated. A high frequency of externally caused DNA damage can be one source of genome instability since DNA damages can cause inaccurate translesion synthesis past the damages or errors in repair, leading to mutation. Another source of genome instability may be epigenetic or mutational reductions in expression of DNA repair genes. Because endogenous (metabolically-caused) DNA damage is very frequent, occurring on average more than 60,000 times a day in the genomes of human cells, any reduced DNA repair is likely an important source of genome instability.

The usual genome situation

Usually, all cells in an individual in a given species (plant or animal) show a constant number of chromosomes, which constitute what is known as the karyotype defining this species (see also List of number of chromosomes of various organisms), although some species present a very high karyotypic variability. In humans, mutations that would change an amino acid within the protein coding region of the genome occur at an average of only 0.35 per generation (less than one mutated protein per generation).Sometimes, in a species with a stable karyotype, random variations that modify the normal number of chromosomes may be observed. In other cases, there are structural alterations (chromosomal translocations, deletions ...) that modify the standard chromosomal complement. In these cases, it is indicated that the affected organism presents genome instability (also genetic instability, or even chromosomic instability). The process of genome instability often leads to a situation of aneuploidy, in which the cells present a chromosomic number that is either higher or lower than the normal complement for the species.

Causes of genome instability

DNA Replication Defects

Fragile Sites

Transcription-associated instability

Increase Genetic Variability

In neuronal and neuromuscular disease

In cancer

Low frequency of mutations without cancer

Cause of mutations in cancer

Very frequent mutations in cancer

Cause of high frequency of mutations in cancer

DNA repair deficiency in cancer

Lymphomas as a consequence of genome instability

Best Regards,


Managing Editor

Journal of Molecular Oncology Research