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J Cell Biol. 1999 Feb 22;144(4):589-601.

Telomere length dynamics and chromosomal instability in cells derived from telomerase null mice.

Author information

1
Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Research Center, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 1L3, Canada.

Abstract

To study the effect of continued telomere shortening on chromosome stability, we have analyzed the telomere length of two individual chromosomes (chromosomes 2 and 11) in fibroblasts derived from wild-type mice and from mice lacking the mouse telomerase RNA (mTER) gene using quantitative fluorescence in situ hybridization. Telomere length at both chromosomes decreased with increasing generations of mTER-/- mice. At the 6th mouse generation, this telomere shortening resulted in significantly shorter chromosome 2 telomeres than the average telomere length of all chromosomes. Interestingly, the most frequent fusions found in mTER-/- cells were homologous fusions involving chromosome 2. Immortal cultures derived from the primary mTER-/- cells showed a dramatic accumulation of fusions and translocations, revealing that continued growth in the absence of telomerase is a potent inducer of chromosomal instability. Chromosomes 2 and 11 were frequently involved in these abnormalities suggesting that, in the absence of telomerase, chromosomal instability is determined in part by chromosome-specific telomere length. At various points during the growth of the immortal mTER-/- cells, telomere length was stabilized in a chromosome-specific man-ner. This telomere-maintenance in the absence of telomerase could provide the basis for the ability of mTER-/- cells to grow indefinitely and form tumors.

PMID:
10037783
PMCID:
PMC2132934
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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