Author(s): Horikawa I, Cable PL, Afshari C, Barrett JC
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Activation of telomerase is one of the rate-limiting steps in human cell immortalization and carcinogenesis Human telomerase is composed of at least two protein subunits and an RNA component. Regulation of expression of the catalytic subunit, human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT), is suggested as the major determinant of the enzymatic activity. We report here the cloning and characterization of the 5'-regulatory region of the hTERT gene. The highly GC-rich content of the 5' end of the hTERT cDNA spans to the 5'-flanking region and intron 1, making a CpG island. A 1.7-kb DNA fragment encompassing the hTERT gene promoter was placed upstream of the luciferase reporter gene and transiently transfected into human cell lines of fibroblastic and epithelial origins that differed in their expression of the endogenous hTERT gene. Endogenous hTERT-expressing cells, but not nonexpressing cells, showed high levels of luciferase activity, suggesting that the regulation of hTERT gene expression occurs mainly at the transcriptional level. Additional luciferase assays using a series of constructs containing unidirectionally deleted fragments revealed that a 59-bp region (-208 to -150) is required for the maximal promoter activity. The region contains a potential Myc oncoprotein binding site (E-box), and cotransfection of a c-myc expression plasmid markedly enhanced the promoter activity, suggesting a role of the Myc protein in telomerase activation. Identification of the regulatory regions of the hTERT promoter sequence will be essential in understanding the molecular mechanisms of positive and negative regulation of telomerase.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Cell & Developmental Biology