Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS) is an extremely rare genetic disorder characterized by premature ageing in childhood and serves as a valuable model for the human ageing process in general. Most recently, point mutations in the lamin A (LMNA) gene on chromosome 1q have been associated with the disease, however how these mutations relate to the complex phenotype of HGPS remains to be established. It has been shown that fibroblasts from HGPS patients are frequently resistant to immortalization with telomerase (hTERT), consistent with the idea that the loss of a dominant acting HGPS gene is a pre-requisite for immortalization. In this study we report the first detailed cytogenetic analysis of hTERT-immortalised HGPS cell lines from three patients and one corresponding primary fibroblast culture. Our results provide evidence for a cytogenetic mosaicism in HGPS with a distinctive pattern of chromosome aberrations in all the HGP clones. Chromosome 11 alterations were observed at a high frequency in each immortalised HGPS cell line but were also present at a lower frequency in the corresponding primary cells. Moreover, we were able to identify the 11q13→q23 region as a potential site of breakage. Our results are therefore consistent with a role of chromosome 11 alterations in the escape from senescence observed in HGPS cells. In addition to this defined rearrangement, we consistently observed complex chromosomal rearrangements, suggesting that HGPS displays features of chromosomal instability.   

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