, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 163–172 | Cite as

Telomerase activity in HeLa cervical carcinoma cell line proliferation

  • Milena Ivanković
  • Andrea Ćukušić
  • Ivana Gotić
  • Nikolina Škrobot
  • Mario Matijašić
  • Denis Polančec
  • Ivica Rubelj
Research Article


Normal human somatic cells in culture have a limited dividing potential. This is due to DNA end replication problem, whereby telomeres shorten with each subsequent cell division. When a critical telomere length is reached cells enter senescence. To overcome this problem, immortal HeLa cell line express telomerase, an enzyme that prevents telomere shortening. Although immortal, the existence of non-dividing cells that do not incorporate 3H-thymidine over 24 h of growth has been well documented in this cell line. Using DiI labeling and high-speed cell sorting, we have separated and analyzed fractions of HeLa cells that divided vigorously as well as those that cease divisions over several days in culture. We also analyzed telomerase activity in separated fractions and surprisingly, found that the fraction of cells that divided 0–1 time over 6 days in culture have several times higher endogenous telomerase activity than the fastest dividing fraction. Additionally, the non-growing fraction regains an overall high labeling index and low SA-β-Gal activity when subcultured again. This phenomenon should be considered if telomerase inhibition is to be used as an approach to cancer therapy. In this paper we also discuss possible molecular mechanisms that underlie the observed results.


DiI Flow cytometry HeLa Senescence Telomerase 



We thank Dr. Olivia Pereira-Smith, Sam and Ann Barshop Center for Longevity and Aging Studies, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio for reviewing the manuscript. This work was supported by Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports grant 0098077.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Milena Ivanković
    • 1
  • Andrea Ćukušić
    • 1
  • Ivana Gotić
    • 1
  • Nikolina Škrobot
    • 1
  • Mario Matijašić
    • 2
  • Denis Polančec
    • 2
  • Ivica Rubelj
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular BiologyRuđer Bošković InstituteZagrebCroatia
  2. 2.Biology, Flow Cytometry and Cell Sorting LabPLIVA—Research Institute LtdZagrebCroatia

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