Selective advantage of trisomic human cells cultured in nonstandard conditions


An abnormal chromosome number, a condition known as aneuploidy, is a ubiquitous feature of cancer cells. A number of studies have shown that aneuploidy impairs cellular fitness. However, there is also evidence that aneuploidy can arise in response to specific challenges and can confer a selective advantage under certain environmental stresses. Cancer cells are likely exposed to a number of challenging conditions arising within the tumor microenvironment. To investigate whether aneuploidy may confer a selective advantage to cancer cells, we employed a controlled experimental system. We used the diploid, colorectal cancer cell line DLD1 and two DLD1-derived cell lines carrying single-chromosome aneuploidies to assess a number of cancer cell properties. Such properties, which included rates of proliferation and apoptosis, anchorage-independent growth, and invasiveness, were assessed both under standard culture conditions and under conditions of stress (i.e., serum starvation, drug treatment, hypoxia). Similar experiments were performed in diploid vs. aneuploid non-transformed human primary cells. Overall, our data show that aneuploidy can confer selective advantage to human cells cultured under non-standard conditions. These findings indicate that aneuploidy can increase the adaptability of cells, even those, such as cancer cells, that are already characterized by increased proliferative capacity and aggressive tumorigenic phenotypes.