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Cancer Lett. 2003 May 15;194(2):163-72.

Telomerase and tumorigenesis.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Dana 710C, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The unique biology of telomeres and telomerase plays important roles in many aspects of mammalian cell physiology. Over the past decade, several lines of evidence have confirmed that the maintenance of telomeres and telomerase participate actively in the pathogenesis of human cancer. Specifically, activation of telomerase is strongly associated with cancer, and recent observations confirm that telomeres and telomerase perform important roles in both suppressing and facilitating malignant transformation by regulating genomic stability and cell lifespan. In addition, recent evidence suggests that telomerase activation contributes to tumorigenesis independently of its role in maintaining telomere length. Here we review recent developments in our understanding of the relationships among telomeres, telomerase, and cancer.

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