Indexed on: 19 Jul '08Published on: 19 Jul '08Published in: PLoS genetics
Genetic instability plays a key role in the formation of naturally occurring cancer. The formation of long DNA palindromes is a rate-limiting step in gene amplification, a common form of tumor-associated genetic instability. Genome-wide analysis of palindrome formation (GAPF) has detected both extensive palindrome formation and gene amplification, beginning early in tumorigenesis, in an experimental Myc-induced model tumor system in the chicken bursa of Fabricius. We determined that GAPF-detected palindromes are abundant and distributed nonrandomly throughout the genome of bursal lymphoma cells, frequently at preexisting short inverted repeats. By combining GAPF with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), we found a significant association between occupancy of gene-proximal Myc binding sites and the formation of palindromes. Numbers of palindromic loci correlate with increases in both levels of Myc over-expression and ChIP-detected occupancy of Myc binding sites in bursal cells. However, clonal analysis of chick DF-1 fibroblasts suggests that palindrome formation is a stochastic process occurring in individual cells at a small number of loci relative to much larger numbers of susceptible loci in the cell population and that the induction of palindromes is not involved in Myc-induced acute fibroblast transformation. GAPF-detected palindromes at the highly oncogenic bic/miR-155 locus in all of our preneoplastic and neoplastic bursal samples, but not in DNA from normal and other transformed cell types. This finding indicates very strong selection during bursal lymphomagenesis. Therefore, in addition to providing a platform for gene copy number change, palindromes may alter microRNA genes in a fashion that can contribute to cancer development.