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J Immunol. 1998 Jun 15;160(12):5702-6.

Cutting edge: antigen-dependent regulation of telomerase activity in murine T cells.

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  • 1Experimental Immunology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Telomeres, structures on the ends of linear chromosomes, function to maintain chromosomal integrity. Telomere shortening occurs with cell division and provides a mechanism for limiting the replicative potential of normal human somatic cells. Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein enzyme, synthesizes telomeric repeats on chromosomal termini, potentially extending the capacity for cell division. The present study demonstrates that resting T cells express little/no activity, and optimal Ag-specific induction of telomerase activity in vitro requires both TCR and CD28-B7 costimulatory signals. Regulation of telomerase in T cells during in vivo Ag-dependent activation was also assessed by adoptive transfer of TCR transgenic T cells and subsequent Ag challenge. Under these conditions, telomerase was induced in transgenic T cells coincident with a phase of extensive clonal expansion. These findings suggest that telomerase may represent an adoptive response that functions to preserve replicative potential in Ag-reactive lymphocytes.

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