Telomerase suppression by chromosome 6 in a human papillomavirus type 16-immortalized keratinocyte cell line and in a cervical cancer cell line

Renske D.M. Steenbergen, Debbie Kramer, Chris J.L.M. Meijer, Jan M.M. Walboomers, Deborah A. Trott, Andrew P. Cuthbert, Robert F. Newbold, Wilhelmina J.I. Overkamp, Malgorzata Z. Zdzienicka, Peter J.F. Snijders

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Background: High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types play a major role in the development of cervical cancer in vivo and can induce immortalization of primary human keratinocytes in vitro. Activation of the telomere-lengthening enzyme telomerase constitutes a key event in both processes. Because losses of alleles from chromosome 6 and increased telomerase activity have been observed in high-grade premalignant cervical lesions, we analyzed whether human chromosome 6 harbors a putative telomerase repressor locus that may be involved in HPV-mediated immortalization. Methods: Microcell-mediated chromosome transfer was used to introduce chromosomes 6 and 11 to the in vitro generated HPV type 16 (HPV16)-immortalized keratinocyte cell line FK16A and to the in vivo derived HPV16-containing cervical cancer cell line SiHa. Hybrid clones were analyzed for growth characteristics, telomerase activity, human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and HPV16 E6 expression, and telomere length. FK16A hybrid clones were also transduced with an hTERT-containing retrovirus to examine the effect of ectopic hTERT expression on growth. Statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Introduction of human chromosome 6 but not of chromosome 11 to both cell lines yielded hybrid cells that demonstrated crisis-like features (i.e., enlarged and flattened morphology, vacuolation, and multinucleation) and underwent growth arrest after a marked lag period. In the chromosome 6 hybrid clones analyzed, telomerase activity and hTERT messenger RNA (mRNA) expression were statistically significantly reduced compared with those in the chromosome 11 hybrid clones (for telomerase activity, P = .004 for the FK16A hybrids and P = .039 for the SiHa hybrids; for hTERT mRNA expression, P = .003 for the FK16A hybrids). The observed growth arrest was associated with telomeric shortening. Ectopic expression of hTERT in FK16A cells could prevent the telomeric shortening-based growth arrest induced by chromosome 6. Conclusions: Chromosome 6 may harbor a repressor of hTERT transcription, the loss of which may be involved in HPV-mediated immortalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)865-872
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2001

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