Telomerase activity of sarcoma cell lines and fibroblasts is independent of p53 status

Mira Milas, Dihua Yu, Dantong Sun, Raphael E. Pollock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Telomerase activity is necessary for the stabilization of telomeres, which function to overcome cellular senescence and are linked to unlimited cell proliferation. Activation of telomerase is characteristic of immortalized cell lines and most tumors. The p53 gene has been implicated as a crucial barrier to unlimited cell proliferation, and its absence has been shown to allow direct immortalization of cells by certain oncogenes. The p53 gene may have an additional function of signaling cell growth arrest in response to telomere shortening, which occurs with repeated cellular divisions and ultimately threatens chromosomal stability. This prompted us to consider whether the enzyme telomerase, responsible for adding new telomeres to chromosomal ends, may be affected by the p53 status of normal and malignant cells. We investigated whether a relationship between telomerase and p53 could be demonstrated in a human sarcoma cell line containing a missense p53 mutation and several stable transfectants that express the wild- type p53 gene or a temperature-sensitive mutant of p53. All cell lines had readily detectable telomerase activity regardless of p53 status. In addition, murine fibroblast cell strains established from tissues of p53 +/+ and p53 - /- (p53 knockout) mice expressed telomerase regardless of the p53 status of their tissue of origin. Levels of telomerase subunit mRNA (hEST2) were comparable among cell lines and tissues with different p53 status. These results imply that p53 status is not associated with telomerase activity per se and that activation of telomerase can occur either in cells completely devoid of p53 or in cells that have functional p53.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1573-1579
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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