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Br J Cancer. 2003 Aug 18;89(4):713-9.

Telomerase activity in B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas is regulated by hTERT transcription and correlated with telomere-binding protein expression but uncoupled from proliferation.

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  • 1Institute of Hematopathology and Lymph Node Registry Kiel, Niemannsweg 11, 24105 Kiel, Germany.


Telomere maintenance is a prerequisite for immortalisation, and in most malignant cells is carried out by telomerase, an enzyme that synthesis new telomeric repeats on the chromosome ends. In normal or reactive tissues with a high regenerative capacity, telomerase is regulated according to the telomere loss that occurs during proliferation. To evaluate the interaction of proliferation and telomerase activity in malignant lymphomas, we quantified telomerase expression in different non-Hodgkin lymphomas in comparison to normal or reactive lymph nodes. Surprisingly, the activity levels were the same in most of the lymphomas analysed as compared to reactive lymph nodes. Significantly higher activity was detected only in Burkitt's lymphoma. Telomerase activity correlated well with hTERT and c-myc expression, but was independent of proliferation. To evaluate interactions of telomere-binding protein expression on telomerase expression in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the mRNA levels of TRF1, TRF2, tankyrase and hPif1 were assessed by real-time RT-PCR. We demonstrate here that the magnitude of telomerase upregulation does not necessarily reflect the requirement of telomere compensation caused by proliferation. Telomerase regulation in non-Hodgkin lymphomas is therefore uncoupled from proliferative stimuli found in reactive lymphoid tissue. We suggest that the upregulation of specific telomere-binding proteins like TRF2 may contribute to telomere maintenance in malignant lymphoma.

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