Various types of chromosomal aberrations, including numerical (aneuploidy) and structural (e.g., translocations, deletions), are commonly found in human tumors and are linked to tumorigenesis. Aneuploidy is a direct consequence of chromosome segregation errors in mitosis, whereas structural aberrations are caused by improperly repaired DNA breaks. Here, we demonstrate that chromosome segregation errors can also result in structural chromosome aberrations. Chromosomes that missegregate are frequently damaged during cytokinesis, triggering a DNA double-strand break response in the respective daughter cells involving ATM, Chk2, and p53. We show that these double-strand breaks can lead to unbalanced translocations in the daughter cells. Our data show that segregation errors can cause translocations and provide insights into the role of whole-chromosome instability in tumorigenesis.
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