Cancer cells often avoid senescence or cell death by maintaining their telomeres despite repeated cell divisions. This is possible because the cancer cells activate an enzyme called telomerase, which adds genetic units onto the telomeres to prevent them from shortening to the point of causing senescence or cell death.
Does telomerase increase risk of cancer?
In humans, evidence that telomerase upregulation confers a risk of familial cancer was first documented in a five-generation autosomal dominant family with cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) that was found to carry a mutation in the TERT promoter (54).
How do telomeres relate to development of cancer?
It is believed that cancer occurs because a genetic mutation can trigger the production of an enzyme, known as telomerase, which prevents telomeres from shortening. While every cell in the body has the genetic coding to produce telomerase, only certain cells actually need it.
How does telomere length affect cancer?
The length of the ‘caps’ of DNA that protect the tips of chromosomes may predict cancer risk and be a potential target for future therapeutics. Longer-than-expected telomeres — which are composed of repeated sequences of DNA and are shortened every time a cell divides — are associated with an increased cancer risk.
What is the role of telomerase in aging and cancer?
Telomere Lengthening in Cancer
The telomerase enables cancer cells to grow quickly and replicate indefinitely by keeping the telomeres long. Without telomerase, cancer cells would be deactivated, stop dividing and eventually undergo apoptosis.
Do telomeres prevent cancer?
“The DNA in telomeres shortens when cells divide, eventually halting cell division when the telomere reserve is depleted.” New results from de Lange’s lab provide the first evidence that telomere shortening helps prevent cancer in humans, likely because of its power to curtail cell division.
Do cancer cells lengthen telomeres?
Cancer cells maintain the telomere length for unlimited growth by telomerase reactivation or a recombination-based mechanism. Recent genome-wide analyses have unveiled genetic and epigenetic alterations of the telomere maintenance machinery in cancer.
Why is telomerase a potential target for cancer therapy?
Telomerase is an attractive target antigen for cancer immunotherapy because it is expressed almost universally in human cancers and is functionally required to sustain malignant tumor long-term growth .
How can telomerase be targeted as a cancer treatment?
Approaches to targeting telomerase include: (1) Immunotherapies—peptide or DNA vaccines supply immunogenic TERT epitopes that stimulate immune responses against telomerase-expressing cancer cells. Adoptive cell transfer therapies entail the infusion of telomerase-specific cytotoxic T cells.
What is the most important environmental risk factor for cancer?
The most significant environmental risk factor for cancer is tobacco, whether they’re using products like cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff or vaping, or being exposed to secondhand smoke.
What is the role of telomerase?
Telomerase is a key enzyme for cell survival that prevents telomere shortening and the subsequent cellular senescence that is observed after many rounds of cell division. In contrast, inactivation of telomerase is observed in most cells of the adult liver.
What is telomerase and why is it important?
The enzyme telomerase adds TTAGGG repeats onto mammalian telomeres, which prevents their shortening. … The activation of telomerase in malignant cancers seems to be an important step in tumorigenesis, whereby the cell gains the ability of indefinite proliferation to become immortal.
What is telomerase used for?
Telomerase is the enzyme responsible for maintenance of the length of telomeres by addition of guanine-rich repetitive sequences. Telomerase activity is exhibited in gametes and stem and tumor cells.