Polyploidy is common in cancer cells and has implications for tumor progression and resistance to therapies, but it is unclear whether it is an adaptation of the tumor or the non-adaptive effect of genomic instability. I discuss the possibility that polyploidy reduces the deleterious effects of loss of heterozygosity, which arises as a consequence of mitotic recombination, and which in diploid cells leads instead to the rapid loss of complementation of recessive deleterious mutations. I use computational predictions of loss of heterozygosity to show that a population of diploid cells dividing by mitosis with recombination can be easily invaded by mutant polyploid cells or cells that divide by endomitosis, which reduces loss of complementation, or by mutant cells that occasionally fuse, which restores heterozygosity. A similar selective advantage of polyploidy has been shown for the evolution of different types of asexual reproduction in nature. This provides an adaptive explanation for cyclical ploidy, mitotic slippage and cell fusion in cancer cells.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry