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(1/4834) Analysis of genomic integrity and p53-dependent G1 checkpoint in telomerase-induced extended-life-span human fibroblasts.

Life span determination in normal human cells may be regulated by nucleoprotein structures called telomeres, the physical ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomeres have been shown to be essential for chromosome stability and function and to shorten with each cell division in normal human cells in culture and with age in vivo. Reversal of telomere shortening by the forced expression of telomerase in normal cells has been shown to elongate telomeres and extend the replicative life span (H. Vaziri and S. Benchimol, Curr. Biol. 8:279-282, 1998; A. G. Bodnar et al., Science 279:349-352, 1998). Extension of the life span as a consequence of the functional inactivation of p53 is frequently associated with loss of genomic stability. Analysis of telomerase-induced extended-life-span fibroblast (TIELF) cells by G banding and spectral karyotyping indicated that forced extension of the life span by telomerase led to the transient formation of aberrant structures, which were subsequently resolved in higher passages. However, the p53-dependent G1 checkpoint was intact as assessed by functional activation of p53 protein in response to ionizing radiation and subsequent p53-mediated induction of p21(Waf1/Cip1/Sdi1). TIELF cells were not tumorigenic and had a normal DNA strand break rejoining activity and normal radiosensitivity in response to ionizing radiation.  (+info)

(2/4834) A telomere-independent senescence mechanism is the sole barrier to Syrian hamster cell immortalization.

Reactivation of telomerase and stabilization of telomeres occur simultaneously during human cell immortalization in vitro and the vast majority of human cancers possess high levels of telomerase activity. Telomerase repression in human somatic cells may therefore have evolved as a powerful resistance mechanism against immortalization, clonal evolution and malignant progression. The comparative ease with which rodent cells immortalize in vitro suggests that they have less stringent controls over replicative senescence than human cells. Here, we report that Syrian hamster dermal fibroblasts possess substantial levels of telomerase activity throughout their culture life-span, even after growth arrest in senescence. In our studies, telomerase was also detected in uncultured newborn hamster skin, in several adult tissues, and in cultured fibroblasts induced to enter the post-mitotic state irreversibly by serum withdrawal. Transfection of near-senescent dermal fibroblasts with a selectable plasmid vector expressing the SV40 T-antigen gene resulted in high-frequency single-step immortalization without the crisis typically observed during the immortalization of human cells. Collectively, these data provide an explanation for the increased susceptibility of rodent cells to immortalization (and malignant transformation) compared with their human equivalents, and provide evidence for a novel, growth factor-sensitive, mammalian senescence mechanism unrelated to telomere maintenance.  (+info)

(3/4834) Telomeric repeats on small polydisperse circular DNA (spcDNA) and genomic instability.

Small polydisperse circular DNA (spcDNA) is a heterogeneous population of extrachromosomal circular molecules present in a large variety of eukaryotic cells. Elevated amounts of total spcDNA are related to endogenous and induced genomic instability in rodent and human cells. We suggested spcDNA as a novel marker for genomic instability, and speculated that spcDNA might serve as a mutator. In this study, we examine the presence of telomeric sequences on spcDNA. We report for the first time the appearance of telomeric repeats in spcDNA molecules (tel-spcDNA) in rodent and human cells. Restriction enzyme analysis indicates that tel-spcDNA molecules harbor mostly, if not exclusively, telomeric repeats. In rodent cells, tel-spcDNA levels are higher in transformed than in normal cells and are enhanced by treatment with carcinogen. Tel-spcDNA is also detected in some human tumors and cell lines, but not in others. We suggest, that its levels in human cells may be primarily related to the amount of the chromosomal telomeric sequences. Tel-spcDNA may serve as a unique mutator, through specific mechanisms related to the telomeric repeats, which distinguish it from the total heterogeneous spcDNA population. It may affect telomere dynamics and genomic instability by clastogenic events, alterations of telomere size and sequestration of telomeric proteins.  (+info)

(4/4834) p53- and ATM-dependent apoptosis induced by telomeres lacking TRF2.

Although broken chromosomes can induce apoptosis, natural chromosome ends (telomeres) do not trigger this response. It is shown that this suppression of apoptosis involves the telomeric-repeat binding factor 2 (TRF2). Inhibition of TRF2 resulted in apoptosis in a subset of mammalian cell types. The response was mediated by p53 and the ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) kinase, consistent with activation of a DNA damage checkpoint. Apoptosis was not due to rupture of dicentric chromosomes formed by end-to-end fusion, indicating that telomeres lacking TRF2 directly signal apoptosis, possibly because they resemble damaged DNA. Thus, in some cells, telomere shortening may signal cell death rather than senescence.  (+info)

(5/4834) Telomere length dynamics and chromosomal instability in cells derived from telomerase null mice.

To study the effect of continued telomere shortening on chromosome stability, we have analyzed the telomere length of two individual chromosomes (chromosomes 2 and 11) in fibroblasts derived from wild-type mice and from mice lacking the mouse telomerase RNA (mTER) gene using quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization. Telomere length at both chromosomes decreased with increasing generations of mTER-/- mice. At the 6th mouse generation, this telomere shortening resulted in significantly shorter chromosome 2 telomeres than the average telomere length of all chromosomes. Interestingly, the most frequent fusions found in mTER-/- cells were homologous fusions involving chromosome 2. Immortal cultures derived from the primary mTER-/- cells showed a dramatic accumulation of fusions and translocations, revealing that continued growth in the absence of telomerase is a potent inducer of chromosomal instability. Chromosomes 2 and 11 were frequently involved in these abnormalities suggesting that, in the absence of telomerase, chromosomal instability is determined in part by chromosome-specific telomere length. At various points during the growth of the immortal mTER-/- cells, telomere length was stabilized in a chromosome-specific man-ner. This telomere-maintenance in the absence of telomerase could provide the basis for the ability of mTER-/- cells to grow indefinitely and form tumors.  (+info)

(6/4834) Telomere loss in somatic cells of Drosophila causes cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.

Checkpoint mechanisms that respond to DNA damage in the mitotic cell cycle are necessary to maintain the fidelity of chromosome transmission. These mechanisms must be able to distinguish the normal telomeres of linear chromosomes from double-strand break damage. However, on several occasions, Drosophila chromosomes that lack their normal telomeric DNA have been recovered, raising the issue of whether Drosophila is able to distinguish telomeric termini from nontelomeric breaks. We used site-specific recombination on a dispensable chromosome to induce the formation of a dicentric chromosome and an acentric, telomere-bearing, chromosome fragment in somatic cells of Drosophila melanogaster. The acentric fragment is lost when cells divide and the dicentric breaks, transmitting a chromosome that has lost a telomere to each daughter cell. In the eye imaginal disc, cells with a newly broken chromosome initially experience mitotic arrest and then undergo apoptosis when cells are induced to divide as the eye differentiates. Therefore, Drosophila cells can detect and respond to a single broken chromosome. It follows that transmissible chromosomes lacking normal telomeric DNA nonetheless must possess functional telomeres. We conclude that Drosophila telomeres can be established and maintained by a mechanism that does not rely on the terminal DNA sequence.  (+info)

(7/4834) Telomere shortening in mTR-/- embryos is associated with failure to close the neural tube.

Mice genetically deficient for the telomerase RNA (mTR) can be propagated for only a limited number of generations. In particular, mTR-/- mice of a mixed C57BL6/129Sv genetic background are infertile at the sixth generation and show serious hematopoietic defects. Here, we show that a percentage of mTR-/- embryos do not develop normally and fail to close the neural tube, preferentially at the forebrain and midbrain. The penetrance of this defect increases with the generation number, with 30% of the mTR-/- embryos from the fifth generation showing the phenotype. Moreover, mTR-/- kindreds in a pure C57BL6 background are only viable up to the fourth generation and also show defects in the closing of the neural tube. Cells derived from mTR-/- embryos that fail to close the neural tube have significantly shorter telomeres and decreased viability than their mTR-/- littermates with a closed neural tube, suggesting that the neural tube defect is a consequence of the loss of telomere function. The fact that the main defect detected in mTR-/- embryos is in the closing of the neural tube, suggests that this developmental process is among the most sensitive to telomere loss and chromosomal instability.  (+info)

(8/4834) Generation and characterization of human smooth muscle cell lines derived from atherosclerotic plaque.

The study of atherogenesis in humans has been restricted by the limited availability and brief in vitro life span of plaque smooth muscle cells (SMCs). We describe plaque SMC lines with extended life spans generated by the expression of the human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 E6 and E7 genes, which has been shown to extend the life span of normal adult human aortic SMCs. Resulting cell lines (pdSMC1A and 2) demonstrated at least 10-fold increases in life span; pdSMC1A became immortal. The SMC identity of both pdSMC lines was confirmed by SM22 mRNA expression. pdSMC2 were generally diploid but with various structural and numerical alterations; pdSMC1A demonstrated several chromosomal abnormalities, most commonly -Y, +7, -13, anomalies previously reported in both primary pdSMCs and atherosclerotic tissue. Confluent pdSMC2 appeared grossly similar to HPV-16 E6/E7-expressing normal adult aortic SMCs (AASMCs), exhibiting typical SMC morphology/growth patterns; pdSMC1A displayed irregular cell shape/organization with numerous mitotic figures. Dedifferentiation to a synthetic/proliferative phenotype has been hypothesized as a critical step in atherogenesis, because rat neonatal SMCs and adult intimal SMCs exhibit similar gene expression patterns. To confirm that our pdSMC lines likewise express this apparent plaque phenotype, osteopontin, platelet-derived growth factor B, and elastin mRNA levels were determined in pdSMC1A, pdSMC2, and AASMCs. However, no significant increases in osteopontin or platelet-derived growth factor B expression levels were observed in either pdSMC compared with AASMCs. pdSMC2 alone expressed high levels of elastin mRNA. Lower levels of SM22 mRNA in pdSMC1A suggested greater dedifferentiation and/or additional population doublings in pdSMC1A relative to pdSMC2. Both pdSMC lines (particularly 1A) demonstrated high message levels for matrix Gla protein, previously reported to be highly expressed by human neointimal SMCs in vitro. These results describe 2 novel plaque cell lines exhibiting various features of plaque SMC biology; pdSMC2 may represent an earlier plaque SMC phenotype, whereas pdSMC1A may be representative of cells comprising an advanced atherosclerotic lesion.  (+info)