Expression of human telomerase subunits and correlation with telomerase activity in urothelial cancer.Clin Cancer Res. 1998 Jul; 4(7):1603-8.CC
The activation of telomerase and stabilization of telomeres are thought to be required for cellular immortality and oncogenesis. Three major components of human telomerase--human telomerase RNA (hTERC), telomerase-associated protein (TEP1), and human telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT)-have recently been identified. However, the roles played by these subunits in the regulation of telomerase activity are still unclear. In the present study, a total of 37 urothelial cancers, including one metastatic lesion, and adjacent normal tissues as well as cell lines derived from bladder cancers were examined for the expression of each telomerase subunit. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis revealed that more than 90% of urothelial cancers expressed hTERT mRNA, whereas less than 20% of normal adjacent tissues did. In contrast, hTERC and TEP1 mRNA were commonly expressed in both cancers and normal tissues. All of the three cell lines derived from bladder cancer expressed each of the telomerase subunits, whereas the two normal primary fibroblast cell lines expressed hTERC and TEP1 mRNA but not hTERT mRNA. Telomerase activity was examined using telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay. All of the cancers examined exhibited telomerase activity, whereas only 2 of 12 normal tissues exhibited weak activity. There was a significant association of telomerase activity with hTERT mRNA expression but not with hTERC or TEP1 mRNA expression. These findings provide strong evidence that the expression of hTERT is a rate-limiting determinant of the enzymatic activity of human telomerase and that the up-regulation of hTERT expression may play a critical role in human carcinogenesis.