Rearrangements of chromosomal regions containing ribosomal RNA genes and centromeric heterochromatin in the human melanoma cell line MeWo
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A chromosomal examination of cells from the earliest available passage of the human melanoma cell line MeWo revealed the presence of seven hypodiploid cell types that shared common complex marker chromosomes. Two of the cell types had long homogeneously staining regions (HSR) by Q-banding on three different chromosomes. Distamycin A/DAPI staining and silver staining for active nucleolar organizing regions (NOR) confirmed that the HSR were derived from chromosome #15. All HSR-containing cells had 4-9 pairs of large NOR distributed along the length of each HSR, with all acrocentric chromosomes being negative. The HSR-lacking cells differed primarily with respect to the morphology of the short arm of one #13 chromosome and NOR activity. One cell type had four chromosomes with active NOR, whereas all other cell types had a single active NOR on one #13. One of these cell types had a satellited #8 with NOR. Cells from three other MeWo cultures at higher passages were examined. Two of these contained both hypodiploid and hypotetraploid cells, some of which had satellited X chromosomes or satellited #3 chromosomes with active NOR. The majority of the new chromosomal rearrangements in cells from the later cultures involved the NOR-containing regions, many of which were associated with the distamycin A/DAPI-positive centromeric heterochromatin from chromosome #15. These results indicate that the chromosomal instability in the MeWo cultures is mainly limited to sequences containing active NOR and centromeric heterochromatin from chromosomes #13 and #15. This may be due to a selective pressure to increase the number of active NOR in the MeWo cells. If this is so, it would appear that amplification of active NOR occurs more readily than the activation of the many silent NOR present in these cells.
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