Focus of Research:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Co-Authors R. Hrdlicková, J.Nehyba, A.S. Liss, and H.R. Bose, Jr.
Telomerase is activated during the transformation of lymphoid cells and fibroblasts by v-Rel, the oncogenic member of the Rel/NF-kappaB family of transcription factors. v-Rel-transformed cell lines have longer telomeres than untransformed chicken lymphoid cells and have high levels of telomerase activity. v-Rel-mediated activation of telomerase is achieved by multiple mechanisms. The expression of the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of telomerase (TERT) was directly upregulated by v-Rel. Moreover, the expression of v-Rel altered the ratio of alternatively spliced and full-length TERT transcripts in favor of the full-length forms. The activation of telomerase by v-Rel in lymphocytes was also accompanied by inactivation of nuclear inhibitors. The inhibition of telomerase activity in v-Rel-transformed cell lines led to apoptosis within 24 h. The expression of v-Rel in a macrophage cell line resulted in elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), increased telomerase activity, and increased sensitivity to telomerase inhibitors. In contrast, the ectopic expression of TERT decreased the extent of apoptosis induced by ROS. The activation of telomerase by v-Rel may, therefore, partially protect the transformed cells from apoptosis induced by ROS.
J Virol. 2006 Jan;80(1):281-95