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Eur J Cancer. 1997 Apr;33(5):792-800.

Telomere structure and telomerase expression during mouse development and tumorigenesis.

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Department of Pathology, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, U.K.


Mouse telomeres are on average longer than those of man, raising questions regarding the link between telomere loss and replicative senescence in mice and the requirement for telomerase activity for mouse cell immortalisation. However, the emerging data on telomerase activity during tumorigenesis in the mouse must be interpreted in the context of the very different structure of mouse telomeres. It will be argued here that the evidence for a casual link between telomere loss and replicative senescence is weak in the mouse, with the observed upregulation of telomerase activity in mouse tumours perhaps instead reflecting co-ordinated regulatory changes in tumour cells. Its absence would be consistent with evolutionary considerations, which hypothesise that such a link is an additional layer of control against tumour formation that has evolved in man. The very different genomic substrates for telomerase in humans and mice mean that the initial phenotype of a telomerase knock-out mouse does not necessarily critically address the existence of a link between telomerase and tumorigenesis in man.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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