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Oncogene. 2002 Jan 21;21(4):619-26.

Balancing instability: dual roles for telomerase and telomere dysfunction in tumorigenesis.

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  • 1Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, MD 21205, USA.


Telomere shortening and telomerase activation both occur in human tumors. Telomere shortening has been proposed to have two conflicting roles in tumorigenesis: tumor suppression and initiation of chromosomal instability. Similarly, while telomerase activation is suggested to be necessary for tumor growth, telomerase may help to stabilize genomic instability. Here we review what is known about these conflicting roles and propose a framework to understand the role of telomerase in cancer progression.

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