Geraldine Aubert

Terry Fox Laboratory, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (10)74.68 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The significance of paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH(pos) ) cells and leucocyte subset telomere lengths in paediatric aplastic anaemia (AA) is unknown. Among 22 children receiving immunosuppressive therapy (IST) for AA, 73% (16/22) were PNH(pos) , of whom 94% achieved at least a partial response (PR) to IST; 11/16 (69%) achieved complete response (CR). Only 2/6 (33%) PNH(neg) patients achieved PR. PNH(pos) patients were less likely to fail IST compared to PNH(neg) patients (odds ratio 0·033; 95% confidence interval 0·002-0·468; P = 0·012). Children with AA had short granulocyte (P = 7·8 × 10(-9) ), natural killer cell (P = 6·0 × 10(-4) ), naïve T lymphocyte (P = 0·002) and B lymphocyte (P = 0·005) telomeres compared to age-matched normative data.
    British Journal of Haematology 11/2013; · 4.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Telomeres are essential for genomic integrity, but little is known about their regulation in the normal human mammary gland. We now demonstrate that a phenotypically defined cell population enriched in luminal progenitors (LPs) is characterized by unusually short telomeres independently of donor age. Furthermore, we find that multiple DNA damage response proteins colocalize with telomeres in >95% of LPs but in <5% of basal cells. Paradoxically, 25% of LPs are still capable of exhibiting robust clonogenic activity in vitro. This may be partially explained by the elevated telomerase activity that was also seen only in LPs. Interestingly, this potential telomere salvage mechanism declines with age. Our findings thus reveal marked differences in the telomere biology of different subsets of primitive normal human mammary cells. The chronically dysfunctional telomeres unique to LPs have potentially important implications for normal mammary tissue homeostasis as well as the development of certain breast cancers.
    Stem cell reports. 06/2013; 1(1):28-37.
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    ABSTRACT: Adoptive T cell therapy can be effective for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated posttransplant lymphoproliferative disease and melanoma. Transducing high-affinity TCR genes into T lymphocytes is an emerging method to improve potency and specificity of tumor-specific T cells. However, both methods necessitate in vitro lymphocyte proliferation, generating highly differentiated effector cells that display reduced survival and antitumor efficacy postinfusion. TCR-transduction of naive lymphocytes isolated from peripheral blood is reported to provide superior in vivo survival and function. We utilized cord blood (CB) lymphocytes, which comprise mainly naive cells, for transducing EBV-specific TCR. Comparable TCR expression was achieved in adult and CB cells, but the latter expressed an earlier differentiation profile. Further antigen-driven stimulation skewed adult lymphocytes to a late differentiation phenotype associated with immune exhaustion. In contrast, CB T cells retained a less differentiated phenotype after antigen stimulation, remaining CD57-negative but were still capable of antigen-specific polyfunctional cytokine expression and cytotoxicity in response to EBV antigen. CB T cells also retained longer telomeres and in general possessed higher telomerase activity indicative of greater proliferative potential. CB lymphocytes therefore have qualities indicating prolonged survival and effector function favorable to immunotherapy, especially in settings where donor lymphocytes are unavailable such as in solid organ and CB transplantation.
    American Journal of Transplantation 09/2012; · 6.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Telomerase activity is readily detectable in extracts from human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, but appears unable to maintain telomere length with proliferation in vitro and with age in vivo. We performed a detailed study of the telomere length by flow FISH analysis in leukocytes from 835 healthy individuals and 60 individuals with reduced telomerase activity. Healthy individuals showed a broad range in average telomere length in granulocytes and lymphocytes at any given age. The average telomere length declined with age at a rate that differed between age-specific breakpoints and between cell types. Gender differences between leukocyte telomere lengths were observed for all cell subsets studied; interestingly, this trend could already be detected at birth. Heterozygous carriers for mutations in either the telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) or the telomerase RNA template (hTERC) gene displayed striking and comparable telomere length deficits. Further, non-carrier relatives of such heterozygous individuals had somewhat shorter leukocyte telomere lengths than expected; this difference was most profound for granulocytes. Failure to maintain telomere homeostasis as a result of partial telomerase deficiency is thought to trigger cell senescence or cell death, eventually causing tissue failure syndromes. Our data are consistent with these statements and suggest that the likelihood of similar processes occurring in normal individuals increases with age. Our work highlights the essential role of telomerase in the hematopoietic system and supports the notion that telomerase levels in hematopoietic cells, while limiting and unable to prevent overall telomere shortening, are nevertheless crucial to maintain telomere homeostasis with age.
    PLoS Genetics 05/2012; 8(5):e1002696. · 8.17 Impact Factor
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    Geraldine Aubert, Mark Hills, Peter M Lansdorp
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    ABSTRACT: Studies of telomeres and telomere biology often critically rely on the detection of telomeric DNA and measurements of the length of telomere repeats in either single cells or populations of cells. Several methods are available that provide this type of information and it is often not clear what method is most appropriate to address a specific research question. The major variables that need to be considered are the material that is or can be made available and the accuracy of measurements that is required. The goal of this review is to provide a comprehensive summary of the most commonly used methods and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. Methods that start with genomic DNA include telomere restriction fragment (TRF) length analysis, PCR amplification of telomere repeats relative to a single copy gene by Q-PCR or MMQPCR and single telomere length analysis (STELA), a PCR-based approach that accurately measures the full spectrum of telomere lengths from individual chromosomes. A different set of methods relies on fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) to detect telomere repeats in individual cells or chromosomes. By including essential calibration steps and appropriate controls these methods can be used to measure telomere repeat length or content in chromosomes and cells. Such methods include quantitative FISH (Q-FISH) and flow FISH which are based on digital microscopy and flow cytometry, respectively. Here the basic principles of various telomere length measurement methods are described and their strengths and weaknesses are highlighted. Some recent developments in telomere length analysis are also discussed. The information in this review should facilitate the selection of the most suitable method to address specific research question about telomeres in either model organisms or human subjects.
    Mutation Research/Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis 06/2011; 730(1-2):59-67. · 4.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a heterogeneous inherited bone marrow failure syndrome, characterized by abnormally short telomeres and mutations in telomere biology genes. The spectrum of telomere biology disorders is growing and the clinical management of these patients is complex. A DC-specific workshop was held at the NIH on September 19, 2008; participants included physicians, patients with DC, their family members, and representatives from other support groups. Data from the UK's DC Registry and the NCI's DC cohort were described. Updates on the function of the known DC genes were presented. Clinical aspects discussed included androgen therapy, stem cell transplant, cancer risk, and cancer screening. Families with DC met for the first time and formed a family support group (http://www.dcoutreach.com/). Ongoing, open collaboration between the clinical, scientific, and family communities is required for continued improvement in our understanding of DC and the clinical consequences of telomeric defects.
    Pediatric Blood & Cancer 06/2009; 53(3):520-3. · 2.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is an inherited bone marrow (BM) failure syndrome associated with mutations in telomerase genes and the acquisition of shortened telomeres in blood cells. To investigate the basis of the compromised hematopoiesis seen in DC, we analyzed cells from granulocyte colony-stimulating factor mobilized peripheral blood (mPB) collections from 5 members of a family with autosomal dominant DC with a hTERC mutation. Premobilization BM samples were hypocellular, and percentages of CD34(+) cells in marrow and mPB collections were significantly below values for age-matched controls in 4 DC subjects. Directly clonogenic cells, although present at normal frequencies within the CD34(+) subset, were therefore absolutely decreased. In contrast, even the frequency of long-term culture-initiating cells within the CD34(+) DC mPB cells was decreased, and the telomere lengths of these cells were also markedly reduced. Nevertheless, the different lineages of mature cells were produced in normal numbers in vitro. These results suggest that marrow failure in DC is caused by a reduction in the ability of hematopoietic stem cells to sustain their numbers due to telomere impairment rather than a qualitative defect in their commitment to specific lineages or in the ability of their lineage-restricted progeny to execute normal differentiation programs.
    Blood 06/2008; 111(9):4523-31. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    Geraldine Aubert, Peter M Lansdorp
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    ABSTRACT: Telomeres play a central role in cell fate and aging by adjusting the cellular response to stress and growth stimulation on the basis of previous cell divisions and DNA damage. At least a few hundred nucleotides of telomere repeats must "cap" each chromosome end to avoid activation of DNA repair pathways. Repair of critically short or "uncapped" telomeres by telomerase or recombination is limited in most somatic cells and apoptosis or cellular senescence is triggered when too many "uncapped" telomeres accumulate. The chance of the latter increases as the average telomere length decreases. The average telomere length is set and maintained in cells of the germline which typically express high levels of telomerase. In somatic cells, telomere length is very heterogeneous but typically declines with age, posing a barrier to tumor growth but also contributing to loss of cells with age. Loss of (stem) cells via telomere attrition provides strong selection for abnormal and malignant cells, a process facilitated by the genome instability and aneuploidy triggered by dysfunctional telomeres. The crucial role of telomeres in cell turnover and aging is highlighted by patients with 50% of normal telomerase levels resulting from a mutation in one of the telomerase genes. Short telomeres in such patients are implicated in a variety of disorders including dyskeratosis congenita, aplastic anemia, pulmonary fibrosis, and cancer. Here the role of telomeres and telomerase in human aging and aging-associated diseases is reviewed.
    Physiological Reviews 05/2008; 88(2):557-79. · 29.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about the behavior of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in primates because direct observations and competitive-repopulation assays are not feasible. Therefore, we used 2 different and independent experimental strategies, the tracking of transgene expression after retroviral-mediated gene transfer (N = 11 baboons; N = 7 rhesus macaques) and quantitation of the average telomere length of granulocytes (N = 132 baboons; N = 14 macaques), together with stochastic methods, to study HSC kinetics in vivo. The average replication rate for baboon HSCs is once per 36 weeks according to gene-marking analyses and once per 23 weeks according to telomere-shortening analyses. Comparable results were derived from the macaque data. These rates are substantially slower than the average replication rates previously reported for HSCs in mice (once per 2.5 weeks) and cats (once per 8.3 weeks). Because baboons and macaques live for 25 to 45 years, much longer than mice ( approximately 2 years) and cats (12-18 years), we can compute that HSCs undergo a relatively constant number ( approximately 80-200) of lifetime replications. Thus, our data suggest that the self-renewal capacity of mammalian stem cells in vivo is defined and evolutionarily conserved.
    Blood 10/2007; 110(6):1806-13. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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Publication Stats

384 Citations
74.68 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2011
    • Terry Fox Laboratory
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2009
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2008
    • University of Iowa
      • Department of Pediatrics
      Iowa City, IA, United States