The improper distribution of chromosomes during mitosis compromises cellular functions and can reduce cellular fitness or contribute to malignant transformation. As a countermeasure, higher eukaryotes have developed strategies for eliminating mitosis-incompetent cells, one of which is mitotic catastrophe. Mitotic catastrophe is driven by a complex and poorly understood signalling cascade but, from a functional perspective, it can be defined as an oncosuppressive mechanism that precedes (and is distinct from) apoptosis, necrosis or senescence. Accordingly, the disruption of mitotic catastrophe precipitates tumorigenesis and cancer progression, and its induction constitutes a therapeutic endpoint.
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