Genes Chromosomes Cancer 62 (2) 93-100 [2023-02-00; online 2022-09-30]
Chromosomal instability is a common feature in malignant tumors. Previous studies have indicated that inactivation of the classical tumor suppressor genes RB1, CDKN2A, and TP53 may contribute to chromosomal aberrations in cancer by disrupting different aspects of the cell cycle and DNA damage checkpoint machinery. We performed a side-by-side comparison of how inactivation of each of these genes affected chromosomal stability in vitro. Using CRISPR-Cas9 technology, RB1, CDKN2A, and TP53 were independently knocked out in karyotypically normal immortalized cells, after which these cells were followed over time. Bulk RNA sequencing revealed a distinct phenotype with upregulation of pathways related to cell cycle control and proliferation in all three knockouts. Surprisingly, the RB1 and CDKN2A knocked out cell lines did not harbor more copy number aberrations than wild-type cells, despite culturing for months. The TP53-knocked out cells, in contrast, showed a massive amount of copy number alterations and saltatory evolution through whole genome duplication. This side-by-side comparison indicated that the effects on chromosomal stability from inactivation of RB1 and CDKN2A are negligible compared to inactivation of TP53, under the same conditions in a nonstressful environment, even though partly overlapping regulatory pathways are affected. Our data suggest that loss of RB1 and CDKN2A alone is not enough to trigger surviving detectable aneuploid clones while inactivation of TP53 on its own caused massive CIN leading to saltatory clonal evolution in vitro and clonal selection.