An alternate splicing variant of the human telomerase catalytic subunit inhibits telomerase activity.

Abstract:

:Telomerase, a cellular reverse transcriptase, adds telomeric repeats to chromosome ends. In normal human somatic cells, telomerase is repressed and telomeres progressively shorten, leading to proliferative senescence. Introduction of the telomerase (hTERT) cDNA is sufficient to produce telomerase activity and immortalize normal human cells, suggesting that the repression of telomerase activity is transcriptional. The telomerase transcript has been shown to have at least six alternate splicing sites (four insertion sites and two deletion sites), and variants containing both or either of the deletion sites are present during development and in a panel of cancer cell lines we surveyed. One deletion (beta site) and all four insertions cause premature translation terminations, whereas the other deletion (alpha site) is 36 bp and lies within reverse transcriptase (RT) motif A, suggesting that this deletion variant may be a candidate as a dominant-negative inhibitor of telomerase. We have cloned three alternately spliced hTERT variants that contain the alpha, beta or both alpha and beta deletion sites. These alternate splicing variants along with empty vector and wild-type hTERT were introduced into normal human fibroblasts and several telomerase-positive immortal and tumor cell lines. Expression of the alpha site deletion variant (hTERT alpha-) construct was confirmed by Western blotting. We found that none of the three alternate splicing variants reconstitutes telomerase activity in fibroblasts. However, hTERT alpha- inhibits telomerase activities in telomerase-positive cells, causes telomere shortening and eventually cell death. This alternately spliced dominant-negative variant may be important in understanding telomerase regulation during development, differentiation and in cancer progression.

journal_name

Neoplasia

authors

Yi X,White DM,Aisner DL,Baur JA,Wright WE,Shay JW

doi

10.1038/sj.neo.7900113

keywords:

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2000-09-01 00:00:00

pages

433-40

issue

5

eissn

1522-8002

issn

1476-5586

journal_volume

2

pub_type

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