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Gene. 2018 Jan 30;641:235-239. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2017.09.072. Epub 2017 Oct 24.

Correlation between telomerase and mTOR pathway in cancer stem cells.

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Department of Medical Biology, Ege University, Faculty of Medicine, Izmir, Turkey.
Department of Medical Biology, Ege University, Faculty of Medicine, Izmir, Turkey. Electronic address:


Cancer stem cells (CSCs), which are defined as a subset of tumor cells, are able to self-renew, proliferate, differentiate similar to normal stem cells. Therefore, targeting CSCs has been considered as a new approach in cancer therapy. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase which plays an important role in regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, cell growth, self-renewal in CSCs. On the other hand, hTERT overactivation provides replicative feature and immortality to CSCs, so the stemness and replicative properties of CSCs depend on telomerase activity. Therefore hTERT/telomerase activity may become a universal biomarker for anticancer therapy and it is an attractive therapeutic target for CSCs. It is known that mTOR regulates telomerase activity at the translational and post-translational level. Researchers show that mTOR inhibitor rapamycin reduces telomerase activity without changing hTERT mRNA activity. Correlation between mTOR and hTERT is important for survival and immortality of cancer cells. In addition, the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway and hTERT up-regulation are related with cancer stemness features and drug resistance. mTOR inhibitor and TERT inhibitor combination may construct a novel strategy in cancer stem cells and it can make a double effect on telomerase enzyme. Consequently, inhibition of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway components and hTERT activation may prohibit CSC self-renewal and surpass CSC-mediated resistance in order to develop new cancer therapeutics.


Cancer stem cells; PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling; Telomerase

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