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Int J Cancer. 2002 Apr 20;98(6):851-6.

Telomerase activity and hTERT mRNA expression can be heterogeneous and does not correlate with telomere length in soft tissue sarcomas.

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University Institute of Pathology, Lausanne, Switzerland.


In a previous study, we showed that telomerase activity (TA) and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA expression were undetectable in benign mesenchymal lesions and low-grade soft tissue sarcomas (STSs), but detectable in about 50% of intermediate-/high-grade STSs. We wondered if this lack of TA or hTERT mRNA expression could be related to the tumor sample examined and if there was a relationship between the former 2 parameters and telomere length. Two separate tumor samples from 37 STSs were examined for telomerase activity, using the telomerase repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay and for hTERT mRNA expression, using RT-PCR. Telomere length was determined in each tumor sample, using the terminal restriction fragments (TRF) technique. Significant variations in telomere length, TA and hTERT mRNA expression between 2 samples of the same tumor were observed in 27%, 11% and 27% of STSs, respectively. Telomere length did not correlate with TA or hTERT mRNA expression. Despite great intratumoral heterogeneity in telomere length, short and long telomeres were more often seen in the low/intermediate-grade and high-grade STS categories, respectively. Few STSs that showed a TRF pattern suggestive of alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) may contain ALT subpopulations.

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