Mechanisms of tetraploidy-induced tumorigenesis
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Tetraploid cells, which typically arise from errors in mitosis, are genomically unstable and promote tumorigenesis. Recent evidence suggests that ~40% of tumors undergo a tetraploid intermediate during their evolution, with ~20% of all solid tumors maintaining a tetraploid karyotype. Consequently, tumor suppression mechanisms have evolved to limit the proliferation of tetraploid cells. However, it remains unclear how tetraploid cells are able to overcome these tumor suppression mechanisms to initiate tumorigenesis. To address this unresolved question, we developed and validated a genome-wide screening assay to comprehensively identify miRNAs whose overexpression promotes tetraploid cell proliferation. We then profiled those miRNAs to mechanistically define how each miRNA functions to overcome tetraploid induced arrest. Our results demonstrate that miRNAs can promote proliferation via multiple mechanisms, including inhibition of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway, hyperactivation of growth factor signaling, and inactivation of the Hippo tumor suppressor pathway. Additionally, we investigated mechanisms that facilitate tumorigenesis from proliferating tetraploid cells. It is well established that tetraploid cell proliferation promotes both numerical and structural chromosome abnormalities, although the precise mechanisms underlying these phenomena remain incompletely understood. Chromosome missegregation can lead to the formation of micronuclei separate from the primary nucleus, a result of either lagging or polar chromosomes. Micronuclei have been shown to rupture during interphase, leading to massive amounts of DNA damage and chromothripsis, resulting in extensive DNA breaks and rearrangements. We followed micronuclei formed from both lagging and polar chromosomes to determine whether all micronuclei are equally prone to nuclear envelope rupture. Our results show that polar micronuclei have nuclear envelopes that are significantly more stable than the nuclear envelopes of micronuclei formed from lagging chromosomes. Furthermore, micronuclei have been shown to be deficient at nuclear import of proteins. Kinetochore assembly, vital for proper chromosome segregation, is dependent upon the nuclear import of many proteins. We sought to establish whether micronuclei have defects in kinetochore assembly since without functional kinetochores, chromosomes cannot bind to the mitotic spindle. We found that chromosomes in micronuclei fail to assemble kinetochores efficiently, and thus promote additional chromosome missegregation. Overall, this dissertation identifies multiple mechanisms that facilitate tumorigenesis from tetraploid intermediates.