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Concept: Cytogenetics


The three-dimensional organization of tightly condensed chromatin within metaphase chromosomes has been one of the most challenging problems in structural biology since the discovery of the nucleosome. This study shows that chromosome images obtained from typical banded karyotypes and from different multicolour cytogenetic analyses can be used to gain information about the internal structure of chromosomes. Chromatin bands and the connection surfaces in sister chromatid exchanges and in cancer translocations are planar and orthogonal to the chromosome axis. Chromosome stretching produces band splitting and even the thinnest bands are orthogonal and well defined, indicating that short stretches of DNA can occupy completely the chromosome cross-section. These observations impose strong physical constraints on models that attempt to explain chromatin folding in chromosomes. The thin-plate model, which consists of many stacked layers of planar chromatin perpendicular to the chromosome axis, is compatible with the observed orientation of bands, with the existence of thin bands, and with band splitting; it is also compatible with the orthogonal orientation and planar geometry of the connection surfaces in chromosome rearrangements. The results obtained provide a consistent interpretation of the chromosome structural properties that are used in clinical cytogenetics for the diagnosis of hereditary diseases and cancers.

Concepts: DNA, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Mitosis, Metaphase, Chromatin, Karyotype


SOFT TISSUE TUMORS ARE CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO THEIR HISTOLOGICAL RESEMBLANCE TO NORMAL ADULT TISSUES AND CAN BE GROUPED INTO THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES BASED ON METASTATIC POTENTIAL: benign, intermediate (locally aggressive), intermediate (rarely metastasizing) and malignant. Over the past two decades, considerable progress has been made in our understanding of the genetic background of soft tissue tumors. Traditional laboratory techniques, such as cytogenetic analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), can be used for diagnostic purposes in soft tissue pathology practice. Moreover, cytogenetic and molecular studies are often necessary for prognostics and follow-up of soft tissue sarcoma patients. This review provides updated information on the applicability of laboratory genetic testing in the diagnosis of benign and intermediate soft tissue tumors. These tumors include nodular fasciitis, chondroid lipoma, collagenous fibroma (desmoplastic fibroblastoma), giant cell tumor of tendon sheath (GCTTS)/pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), angiofibroma of soft tissue, myxoinflammatory fibroblastic sarcoma (MIFS) and ossifying fibromyxoid tumor (OFMT).

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Oncology, Extracellular matrix, Soft tissue sarcoma, Anatomical pathology, Fluorescent in situ hybridization, Cytogenetics


In humans, the most common chromosomal abnormality is aneuploidy. Because the majority of aneuploid conceptuses die during the early stages of embryonic development, an accurate estimate of the frequency of aneuploidy at conception can only be assessed by directly studying the gametes. The vast majority of aneuploidies arise de novo as a result of sporadic chromosome missegregation in paternal or maternal meiosis. In this review, we present the basic current knowledge about the incidence of aneuploidy in human spermatozoa in the general population and in patient populations where elevated levels of sperm aneuploidy are observed. These include infertile patients, patients with abnormal somatic karyotypes, and individuals exposed to certain environmental/ lifestyle hazards. The clinical impact of increased levels of aneuploidy is discussed. We then focus on the nondisjunction mechanisms that cause aneuploidy during spermatogenesis and the factors that predispose to nondisjunction in male germ cells followed by an analysis of the sex differences in the incidence of gamete aneuploidy. Recent meiotic studies using multiplex-FISH on three fertile men have revealed that the frequency of conservative aneuploidy of metaphase II spermatocytes is similar to that observed in non-inseminated oocytes of young women. These findings suggest that the differences in the incidence of aneuploidy between spermatozoa and oocytes are not due to differences in chromosome segregation errors but rather to more effective checkpoint mechanisms in spermatogenesis than in oogenesis.

Concepts: Chromosome, Sperm, Cytogenetics, Meiosis, Spermatogenesis, Aneuploidy, Gamete, Ploidy


Microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization (array-CGH) led to the discovery of genetic abnormalities among patients with complex phenotype and normal karyotype. Also several apparently normal individuals have been found to be carriers of cryptic imbalances, hence the importance to perform parental investigations after the identification of a deletion/duplication in a proband. Here, we report the molecular cytogenetic characterization of two individuals in which the microdeletions/duplications present in their parents could have predisposed and facilitated the formation of pathogenic different copy number variations (CNVs). In family 1, a 4-year-old girl had a pathogenic 10.5 Mb duplication at 15q21.2q22.2, while her mother showed a 2.262 Mb deletion at 15q13.2q13.3; in family 2, a 9-year-old boy had a 1.417 Mb deletion at 22q11.21 and a second paternal deletion of 247 Kb at 22q11.23 on the same chromosome 22. Chromosome 22 at band q11.2 and chromosome 15 at band q11q13 are considered unstable regions. We could hypothesize that 15q13.2q13.3 and 22q11.21 deletions in the two respective parents might have increased the risk of rearrangements in their children. This study highlights the difficulty to make genetic counseling and predict the phenotypic consequences in these situations.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Copy number variation, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomes, Metaphase


Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) have a great potential as indicators of metastatic disease that may help physicians improve cancer prognostication, treatment and patient outcomes. Heterogeneous marker expression as well as the complexity of current antibody-based isolation and analysis systems highlights the need for alternative methods. In this work, we use a microfluidic Vortex device that can selectively isolate potential tumor cells from blood independent of cell surface expression. This system was adapted to interface with three protein-marker-free analysis techniques: (i) an in-flow automated image processing system to enumerate cells released, (ii) cytological analysis using Papanicolaou (Pap) staining and (iii) fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) targeting the ALK rearrangement. In-flow counting enables a rapid assessment of the cancer-associated large circulating cells in a sample within minutes to determine whether standard downstream assays such as cytological and cytogenetic analyses that are more time consuming and costly are warranted. Using our platform integrated with these workflows, we analyzed 32 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and 22 breast cancer patient samples, yielding 60 to 100% of the cancer patients with a cell count over the healthy threshold, depending on the detection method used: respectively 77.8% for automated, 60-100% for cytology, and 80% for immunostaining based enumeration.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Fluorescent in situ hybridization, Cytogenetics


Current cell-free DNA assessment of fetal chromosomes does not analyze and report on all chromosomes. Hence, a significant proportion of fetal chromosomal abnormalities are not detectable by current non-invasive methods. Here we report the clinical validation of a novel non-invasive prenatal test designed to detect genome-wide gains and losses of chromosomal material ≥7 Mb and losses associated with specific deletions <7 Mb.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell, Species, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomes, Chromatin


Chromosomal rearrangements occur constitutionally in the general population and somatically in the majority of cancers. Detection of balanced rearrangements, such as reciprocal translocations and inversions, is troublesome, which is particularly detrimental in oncology where rearrangements play diagnostic and prognostic roles. Here we describe the use of Hi-C as a tool for detection of both balanced and unbalanced chromosomal rearrangements in primary human tumour samples, with the potential to define chromosome breakpoints to bp resolution. In addition, we show copy number profiles can also be obtained from the same data, all at a significantly lower cost than standard sequencing approaches.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Cancer, Oncology, Tumor, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Aneuploidy


To review clinical validation or implementation studies of maternal blood cell-free (cf) DNA analysis and define the performance of screening for fetal trisomies 21, 18 and 13 and sex chromosome aneuploidies.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cancer, Eukaryote, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Meiosis, Aneuploidy


Purpose:Recent published studies have demonstrated the incremental value of the use of cell-free DNA for noninvasive prenatal testing with 100% sensitivity for trisomies 21 and 18 and a specificity of ≥99.7% for both. Data presented by two independent groups suggesting positive results by noninvasive prenatal testing were not confirmed by cytogenetic studies.Methods:Concordance of results among cases with noninvasive prenatal testing referred for cytogenetic prenatal and/or postnatal studies by karyotyping, fluorescence in situ hybridization, and/or oligo-single-nucleotide polymorphism microarray was evaluated for 109 consecutive specimens.Results:Cytogenetic results were positive for trisomy 21 in 38 of the 41 noninvasive prenatal testing-positive cases (true-positive rate: 93%) and for trisomy 18 in 16 of the 25 noninvasive prenatal testing-positive cases (true-positive rate: 64%). The true-positive rate was only 44% (7/16 cases) for trisomy 13 and 38% (6/16 cases) for sex chromosome aneuploidy.Conclusion:These findings raise concerns about the limitations of noninvasive prenatal testing and the need for analysis of a larger number of false-positive cases to provide true positive predictive values for noninvasive testing and to search for potential biological or technical causes. Our data suggest the need for a careful interpretation of noninvasive prenatal testing results and cautious transmission of the same to providers and patients.Genet Med advance online publication 07 August 2014Genetics in Medicine (2014); doi:10.1038/gim.2014.92.

Concepts: Positive predictive value, Chromosome, Type I and type II errors, Sensitivity and specificity, Cytogenetics, Aneuploidy, Trisomy, Karyotype


With recent rapid advances in genomic technologies, precise delineation of structural chromosome rearrangements at the nucleotide level is becoming increasingly feasible. In this era of “next-generation cytogenetics” (i.e., an integration of traditional cytogenetic techniques and next-generation sequencing), a consensus nomenclature is essential for accurate communication and data sharing. Currently, nomenclature for describing the sequencing data of these aberrations is lacking. Herein, we present a system called Next-Gen Cytogenetic Nomenclature, which is concordant with the International System for Human Cytogenetic Nomenclature (2013). This system starts with the alignment of rearrangement sequences by BLAT or BLAST (alignment tools) and arrives at a concise and detailed description of chromosomal changes. To facilitate usage and implementation of this nomenclature, we are developing a program designated BLA(S)T Output Sequence Tool of Nomenclature (BOSToN), a demonstrative version of which is accessible online. A standardized characterization of structural chromosomal rearrangements is essential both for research analyses and for application in the clinical setting.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Sequence, Aneuploidy, Metaphase