Chromosomes with homogeneously staining regions (HSR) were analysed in a subclone of the H4 rat hepatoma cell line, where they represent amplification of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes. Detailed G-band analysis of the subclone revealed that an HSR on the short arm of chromosome 3 became unstable and changed its position within the chromosome. The evolution of this marker chromosome was associated with the terminal deletion of the normal long arm of the HSR-bearing chromosome 3 and may have involved ring formation as a result of fusion between the HSR on the short arm and the broken end of the long arm. Evidence was obtained for breakage at different sites within the ring, producing chromosomes with HSRs located terminally on either the long arms or both arms. The terminally located HSR underwent elongation in some cells presumably as a result of a breakage-fusionbridge cycle characteristic of instability due to telomeric loss. It is suggested that terminally located HSRs may generally occur this way.
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