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An Age-Induced Switch to a Hyper-Recombinational State

Science  26 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5641, pp. 1908-1911
DOI: 10.1126/science.1087706

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Abstract

There is a strong correlation between age and cancer, but the mechanism by which this phenomenon occurs is unclear. We chose Saccharomyces cerevisiae to examine one of the hallmarks of cancer—genomic instability— as a function of cellular age. As diploid yeast mother cells aged, an ∼100-fold increase in loss of heterozygosity (LOH) occurred. Extending life-span altered neither the onset nor the frequency of age-induced LOH; the switch to hyper-LOH appears to be on its own clock. In young cells, LOH occurs by reciprocal recombination, whereas LOH in old cells was nonreciprocal, occurring predominantly in the old mother's progeny. Thus, nuclear genomes may be inherently unstable with age.

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