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Am J Pathol. 2005 Jan;166(1):73-80.

Up-regulation of telomere-binding proteins, TRF1, TRF2, and TIN2 is related to telomere shortening during human multistep hepatocarcinogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, and Brain Korea 21 Project for Medical Science, Yonsei University College of Medicine, CPO Box 8044, Seoul, Korea.


The telomeric repeat-binding factor 1 (TRF1), TRF2, and the TRF1-interacting nuclear protein 2 (TIN2) are involved in telomere maintenance. We describe the regulation of expression of these genes along with their relationship to telomere length in hepatocarcinogenesis. The transcriptional expression of these genes, TRF1 protein, and telomere length was examined in 9 normal livers, 14 chronic hepatitis, 24 liver cirrhosis, 5 large regenerative nodules, 14 low-grade dysplastic nodules (DNs), 7 high-grade DNs, 10 DNs with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) foci, and 31 HCCs. The expression of TRF1, TRF2, TIN2 mRNA, and TRF1 protein was gradually increased according to the progression of hepatocarcinogenesis with a marked increase in high-grade DNs and DNs with HCC foci and a further increase in HCCs. There was a gradual shortening of telomere during hepatocarcinogenesis with a significant reduction in length in DNs. Most nodular lesions (52 of 67) had shorter telomeres than their adjacent chronic hepatitis or liver cirrhosis, and the telomere lengths were inversely correlated with the mRNA level of these genes (P </= 0.001). This was more evident in DNs and DNs with HCC foci. In conclusion, TRF1, TRF2, and TIN2 might be involved in multistep hepatocarcinogenesis by playing crucial roles in telomere shortening.

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