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Cancer Res. 1999 Dec 15;59(24):6087-90.

DNA methylation analysis of the promoter region of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA. devereux@niehs.nih.gov


The promoter of the hTERT gene encoding the catalytic subunit of telomerase was recently cloned and has a dense CG-rich CpG island, suggesting a role for methylation in regulation of hTERT expression. In this study, we have initiated the analysis of the regulation of hTERT expression by examining the methylation status of up to 72 CpG sites extending from 500 bases upstream of the transcriptional start site of the hTERT gene into the first exon in 37 cell lines. These cell lines represent a variety of cell and tissue types, including normal, immortalized, and cancer cell lines from lung, breast, and other tissues. Using bisulfite genomic sequencing, we did not find a generalized pattern of site-specific or region-specific methylation that correlated with expression of the hTERT gene: most of the hTERT-negative normal cells and about one-third of the hTERT-expressing cell lines had the unmethylated/hypomethylated promoter, whereas the other hTERT-expressing cell lines showed partial or total methylation of the promoter. The promoter of one hTERT-negative fibroblast cell line, SUSM-1, was methylated at all sites examined. Treatment of SUSM-1 cells with the demethylating agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine and the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A induced the cells to express hTERT, suggesting a potential role for DNA methylation and/or histone deacetylation in negative regulation of hTERT. This study indicates that there are multiple levels of regulation of hTERT expression in CpG island methylation-dependent and -independent manners.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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