A low threshold level of expression of mutant-template telomerase RNA inhibits human tumor cell proliferation.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

PubMedID: 11438744

Kim MM, Rivera MA, Botchkina IL, Shalaby R, Thor AD, Blackburn EH. A low threshold level of expression of mutant-template telomerase RNA inhibits human tumor cell proliferation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2001;98(14):7982-7.
The ribonucleoprotein telomerase synthesizes telomeric DNA by copying an intrinsic RNA template. In most cancer cells, telomerase is highly activated. Here we report a telomerase-based antitumor strategy: expression of mutant-template telomerase RNAs in human cancer cells. We expressed mutant-template human telomerase RNAs in prostate (LNCaP) and breast (MCF-7) cancer cell lines. Even a low threshold level of expression of telomerase RNA gene constructs containing various mutant templates, but not the control wild-type template, decreased cellular viability and increased apoptosis. This occurred despite the retention of normal levels of the endogenous wild-type telomerase RNA and endogenous wild-type telomerase activity and unaltered stable telomere lengths. In vivo tumor xenografts of a breast cancer cell line expressing a mutant-template telomerase RNA also had decreased growth rates. Therefore, mutant-template telomerase RNAs exert a strongly dominant-negative effect on cell proliferation and tumor growth. These results support the potential use of mutant-template telomerase RNA expression as an antineoplastic strategy.