Expression of telomerase genes correlates with telomerase activity in human colorectal carcinogenesis.J Pathol. 2001 Jan; 193(1):21-6.JP
The human telomerase enzyme is composed of two essential components, hTR, which acts as a template for reverse transcription, and hTERT, which is the putative catalytic subunit for the enzyme. Recent studies have demonstrated a good correlation between hTERT expression and telomerase activation, whereas RT-PCR results seemed to reveal that hTR is ubiquitously expressed in all cells. These observations left unclear the role of hTR, and to a lesser extent hTERT, in the regulation of telomerase activation. In the present study, the correlation of telomerase activity and the expression of these genes was examined in a total of 70 colorectal tissues (25 adenocarcinomas, 30 adenomas, and 15 samples of normal colorectal mucosa). Total RNA for RT-PCR analysis and cell extracts for TRAP assay were obtained from consecutive sections and histological control was simultaneously performed. To avoid false-positive results, due to the fact that hTR cDNA and genomic hTR DNA are identical (the gene has no introns), extensive DNase digestion was performed before cDNA synthesis. RT-PCR analysis revealed that hTERT mRNA was expressed in all cancers and in 13 of 14 telomerase-positive adenomas, but never in telomerase-negative colorectal tissues. hTR transcripts were observed in all telomerase-positive samples but also in three telomerase-negative samples, two adenomas, and one normal colonic mucosa. It is concluded that hTERT and hTR expression is strongly correlated with telomerase activity. hTR transcripts, however, also occur in some telomerase-negative tissues and these results are in keeping with the concept that hTERT expression is a major regulator of telomerase activity.