Novel submicroscopic extrachromosomal elements containing amplified genes in human cells

B J Maurer, E Lai, B A Hamkalo, L Hood, G Attardi
Nature 1987 June 4, 327 (6121): 434-7
In previous work, several methotrexate (MTX)-resistant variants were isolated frm the human cell line HeLa BU25, which exhibited a high degree of dihydrofolate (DHFR) gene amplification (estimated to be 250- to 300-fold). These variants did not contain any chromosome with a homogeneously staining region (HSR) and exhibited only a small average number of minute chromosomes per cell: these two types of karyotypic abnormalities generally accompany selective gene amplification. We now report that structures containing amplified DHFR genes in one of these variants (HeLa BU25-10B3) can be isolated by pulsed-field gradient or field-inversion gel electrophoresis as homogeneous DNA molecules of approximately 650 kilobases (kb). Electron microscopy of metaphase spreads from these cells reveals chromatin fibres with a similar DNA content, which are probably related to the above elements. These represent a novel type of extrachromosomal structures in mammalian cells.

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