Abstract P029

Are Reed-Sternberg cells stuck in mitosis by short nucleoplasmic bridges as a consequence of centromeric instability?

Background: Multinucleated giant tumor cells are frequently observed in lymph nodes of untreated lymphoma patients. Malignant Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) cells i. e. small Hodgkin and large bi- or multinucleated Reed-Sternberg (HRS) cells are characterized by genomic instability and downregulation of numerous key regulators of e.g. cell cycle, spindle apparatus, cytokinesis and cell lineage differentiation. So far, the formation of HRS cells remains obscure. We have demonstrated previously that telomere instability is involved in the proliferation of small cells into large binucleated cells. Here, we have used a collection of HL cell lines to analyze the successive steps involved in the transformation of the mononucleated into the multinucleated RS-like cells.

Materials and methods: Seven HL cell lines and 30 HL lymph nodes were used. Cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay and telomere and centromere staining followed by the M-FISH technique were employed to analyze chromosomal instability. DNA repair pathways were investigated.

Results: We demonstrate that telomere dysfunction in HL cell lines is associated with the formation of dicentric chromosomes with both centromeres in close proximity, but also with a high rate of formation of micronuclei. Two morphologically different types of nucleoplasmic bridges (NPBs) were observed: (1) Long NPBs related to telomere dysfunction and chromosome fusions, and (2) short NPBs related to centromere breakpoints with configurations of cells looking like “stuck” together as binucleated cells. Short NPBs and binucleated cells were seen in the cultures of all HL cell lines. However, each HL cell line was characterized by an individual signature of the proportion of long and short NPBs, which correlated with centrosome amplification and formation of stable binucleated cells. Similar mechanisms were identified in HL patient lymph nodes prior to treatment, thus underscoring the biological significance of our findings in cell cultures. Transcriptome analysis confirmed the variations in the DNA repair pathways regarding the rate of large cells among the different HL cell lines.

Conclusion: The formation of dicentric chromosomes related to centromere instability, and short NPBs were associated with the emergence of binucleated cells through different mechanisms. Our findings open a novel route to understanding the transition from mononucleated cells to multinucleated cells in HL and in other B-cell lymphomas.


Radhia M'kacher, Steffen Junker, Bruno Colicchio, Wala Najar, Justyna Mika, Alain Dieterlen, Joanna Polanska, Philippe Voisin, Eric Jeandidier, Patrice Carde