Shorter telomeres and high telomerase activity correlate with a highly aggressive phenotype in breast cancer cell lines
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Maintenance of telomere length is one function of human telomerase that is crucial for the survival of cancer cells and cancer progression. Both telomeres and telomerase have been proposed as possible biomarkers of cancer risk and cancer invasiveness; however, their clinical relevance is still under discussion. In order to improve our understanding of the relationship between telomere length and telomerase activity with cancer invasiveness, we studied telomere length as well as telomerase levels, activity, and intracellular localization in breast cancer cell lines with diverse invasive phenotypes. We found an apparently paradoxical coincidence of short telomeres and enhanced telomerase activity in the most invasive breast cancer cell lines. We also observed that hTERT intracellular localization could be correlated with its level of activity. There was no association between human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) protein expression levels and invasiveness. We propose that simultaneous evaluation of these two biomarkers—telomere length and telomerase activity—could be useful for the assessment of the invasive capacity and aggressiveness of tumor cells from breast cancer patients.
KeywordsBreast cancer Cell lines hTERT Telomerase activity Telomere length
The authors thank Blanca Olivia Murillo Ortiz Ph. D. from IMSS Unidad Médica de Alta Especialidad #1 León, México, for her assistance in telomere length measuring assays; Enrique Perez Cárdenas Ph. D. from the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología, SSA, México for his support in invasion assays; and Carmen Mora Villalpando Ph. D. from IMSS Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI, México for her advice in qPCR assays. Hugo A. Ceja-Rangel is grateful for CONACYT-México and IMSS scholarships and is grateful for the support, advice, and tutorship of Dr. Luis Benítez Bribiesca and Dr. Patricio Gariglio.
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was supported with grants from the Coordination for Health Research, IMSS (FIS/IMSS/PROT/MD13/1253).
Conflicts of interest
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