[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomere dysfunction and fusion play key roles in driving genomic instability and clonal evolution in many tumour types. We have recently described a role for DNA Ligase III (LIG3) in facilitating the escape of cells from crisis induced by telomere dysfunction. Our data indicate that LIG3-mediated telomere fusion is important in facilitating clonal evolution.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Leukemia is one of the leading journals in hematology and oncology. It is published monthly and covers all aspects of the research and treatment of leukemia and allied diseases. Studies of normal hemopoiesis are covered because of their comparative relevance.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Leukemia: official journal of the Leukemia Society of America, Leukemia Research Fund, U.K
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Defining the prognosis of individual chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients remains a significant clinical challenge. Consequently, there is a need to identify tests that can provide reliable personalized risk assessments. Here we discuss the problems associated with the currently used prognostic markers and emphasize the potential for using high-resolution telomere length analysis (STELA) for the accurate prediction of clinical outcome. Given the development of targeted, less toxic therapeutics in chronic lymphocytic leukemia, it is crucial to accurately identify those patients who might benefit from early treatment and equally those who may not require treatment at all. In this context, there is also a clear need for dependable predictive markers of response to drugs so that optimal treatment decisions can be made for individual patients.
Preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Expert Review of Hematology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Telomere length is a putative biomarker of ageing, morbidity and mortality. Its application is hampered by lack of widely applicable reference ranges and uncertainty regarding the present limits of measurement reproducibility within and between laboratories.
We instigated an international collaborative study of telomere length assessment: 10 different laboratories, employing 3 different techniques [Southern blotting, single telomere length analysis (STELA) and real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR)] performed two rounds of fully blinded measurements on 10 human DNA samples per round to enable unbiased assessment of intra- and inter-batch variation between laboratories and techniques.
Absolute results from different laboratories differed widely and could thus not be compared directly, but rankings of relative telomere lengths were highly correlated (correlation coefficients of 0.63-0.99). Intra-technique correlations were similar for Southern blotting and qPCR and were stronger than inter-technique ones. However, inter-laboratory coefficients of variation (CVs) averaged about 10% for Southern blotting and STELA and more than 20% for qPCR. This difference was compensated for by a higher dynamic range for the qPCR method as shown by equal variance after z-scoring. Technical variation per laboratory, measured as median of intra- and inter-batch CVs, ranged from 1.4% to 9.5%, with differences between laboratories only marginally significant (P = 0.06). Gel-based and PCR-based techniques were not different in accuracy.
Intra- and inter-laboratory technical variation severely limits the usefulness of data pooling and excludes sharing of reference ranges between laboratories. We propose to establish a common set of physical telomere length standards to improve comparability of telomere length estimates between laboratories.
No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · International Journal of Epidemiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Short dysfunctional telomeres are capable of fusion, generating dicentric chromosomes and initiating breakage-fusion-bridge cycles. Cells that escape the ensuing cellular crisis exhibit large-scale genomic rearrangements that drive clonal evolution and malignant progression. We demonstrate that there is an absolute requirement for fully functional DNA ligase III (LIG3), but not ligase IV (LIG4), to facilitate the escape from a telomere-driven crisis. LIG3- and LIG4-dependent alternative (A) and classical (C) nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathways were capable of mediating the fusion of short dysfunctional telomeres, both displaying characteristic patterns of microhomology and deletion. Cells that failed to escape crisis exhibited increased proportions of C-NHEJ-mediated interchromosomal fusions, whereas those that escaped displayed increased proportions of intrachromosomal fusions. We propose that the balance between inter- and intrachromosomal telomere fusions dictates the ability of human cells to escape crisis and is influenced by the relative activities of A- and C-NHEJ at short dysfunctional telomeres.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Defining the prognosis of individual cancer sufferers remains a significant clinical challenge. Here we assessed the ability of high-resolution single telomere length analysis (STELA), combined with an experimentally derived definition of telomere dysfunction, to predict the clinical outcome of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). We defined the upper telomere length threshold at which telomere fusions occur and then used the mean of the telomere 'fusogenic' range as a prognostic tool. Patients with telomeres within the fusogenic range had a significantly shorter overall survival (P < 0·0001; Hazard ratio [HR] = 13·2, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 11·6-106·4) and this was preserved in early-stage disease patients (P < 0·0001, HR=19·3, 95% CI = 17·8-802·5). Indeed, our assay allowed the accurate stratification of Binet stage A patients into those with indolent disease (91% survival at 10 years) and those with poor prognosis (13% survival at 10 years). Furthermore, patients with telomeres above the fusogenic mean showed superior prognosis regardless of their IGHV mutation status or cytogenetic risk group. In keeping with this finding, telomere dysfunction was the dominant variable in multivariate analysis. Taken together, this study provides compelling evidence for the use of high-resolution telomere length analysis coupled with a definition of telomere dysfunction in the prognostic assessment of CLL.
No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · British Journal of Haematology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomeres play a fundamental role in the protection of chromosomal DNA and in the regulation of cellular senescence. Recent work in human epidemiology and evolutionary ecology suggests adult telomere length (TL) may reflect past physiological stress and predict subsequent morbidity and mortality, independent of chronological age.
Several different methods have been developed to measure TL, each offering its own technical challenges. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the advantages and drawbacks of each method for researchers, with a particular focus on issues that are likely to face ecologists and evolutionary biologists collecting samples in the field or in organisms that may never have been studied in this context before.
We discuss the key issues to consider and wherever possible try to provide current consensus view regarding best practice with regard to sample collection and storage, DNA extraction and storage, and the five main methods currently available to measure TL.
Decisions regarding which tissues to sample, how to store them, how to extract DNA, and which TL measurement method to use cannot be prescribed, and are dependent on the biological question addressed and the constraints imposed by the study system. What is essential for future studies of telomere dynamics in evolution and ecology is that researchers publish full details of their methods and the quality control thresholds they employ.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Methods in Ecology and Evolution
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The shelterin proteins are required for telomere integrity. Shelterin dysfunction can lead to initiation of unwarranted DNA damage and repair pathways at chromosomal termini. Interestingly, many shelterin accessory proteins are involved in DNA damage signaling and repair. We demonstrate here that in normal human fibroblasts, telomeric ends are protected by phosphorylation of CGG triplet repeat-binding protein 1 (CGGBP1) at serine 164 (S164). We show that serine 164 is a major phosphorylation site on CGGBP1 with important functions. We provide evidence that one of the kinases that can phosphorylate S164 CGGBP1 is ATR. Overexpression of S164A phospho-deficient CGGBP1 exerted a dominant-negative effect, causing telomeric dysfunction, accelerated telomere shortening, enhanced fusion of telomeres, and crisis. However, overexpression of wild-type or phospho-mimicking S164E CGGBP1 did not cause these effects. This telomere damage was associated with reduced binding of the shelterin protein POT1 to telomeric DNA. Our results suggest that CGGBP1 phosphorylation at S164 is a novel telomere protection signal, which can affect telomere-protective function of the shelterin complex.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Telomere shortening, dysfunction, and fusion may facilitate the acquisition of large-scale genomic rearrangements, driving clonal evolution and tumor progression. The relative contribution that telomere dysfunction and/or APC mutation play in the chromosome instability that occurs during colorectal tumorigenesis is not clear.
We used high-resolution telomere length and fusion analysis to analyze 85 adenomatous colorectal polyps obtained from 10 patients with familial adenomatous polyposis and a panel of 50 colorectal carcinomas with patient-matched normal colonic mucosa. Telomerase activity was determined using the telomeric repeat amplification protocol. Array-CGH was used to detect large-scale genomic rearrangements. Pearson correlation and Student t test were used, and all statistical tests were two-sided.
Despite the presence of telomerase activity, we observed apparent telomere shortening in colorectal polyps that correlated with large-scale genomic rearrangements (P < .0001) but was independent of polyp size and indistinguishable from that observed in colorectal carcinomas (P = .82). We also observed apparent lengthening of telomeres in both polyps and carcinomas. The extensive differences in mean telomere length of up to 4.6kb between patient-matched normal mucosa and polyps were too large to be accounted for by replicative telomere erosion alone. Telomere fusion events were detected in both polyps and carcinomas; the mutational spectrum accompanying fusion was consistent with alternative nonhomologous end joining.
Telomere length distributions observed in colorectal polyps reflect the telomere length composition of the normal originating cells from which clonal growth was initiated. Originating cells containing both short telomeres and APC mutations may give rise to polyps that exhibit short telomeres and are prone to telomere dysfunction, driving genomic instability and progression to malignancy. J Natl Cancer Inst;2013;105:1202-1211.
Preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of the National Cancer Institute
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The catalytic subunit of human telomerase (TERT) is highly expressed in cancer cells, and correlates with complex cytogenetics and disease severity in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The TERT promoter is situated within a large CpG island, suggesting that expression is methylation-sensitive. Studies suggest a correlation between hypermethylation and TERT overexpression. We investigated the relationship between TERT promoter methylation and expression and telomerase activity in human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines. DAC-induced demethylation and cell death were observed in all three cell lines, as well as telomere shortening in HL-60 cells. DAC treatment reduced TERT expression and telomerase activity in OCI/AML3 and HL-60 cells, but not in U937 cells. Control U937 cells expressed lower levels of TERT mRNA, carried a highly methylated TERT core promoter, and proved more resistant to DAC-induced repression of TERT expression and cell death. AML patients had significantly lower methylation levels at several CpGs than "well elderly" individuals. This study, the first to investigate the relationship between TERT methylation and telomerase activity in leukemia cells, demonstrated a differential methylation pattern and response to DAC in three AML cell lines. We suggest that, although DAC treatment reduces TERT expression and telomerase activity, this is unlikely to occur via direct demethylation of the TERT promoter. However, further investigations on the regions spanning CpGs 7-12 and 14-16 may reveal valuable information regarding transcriptional regulation of TERT.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Genes Chromosomes and Cancer
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several recent studies have provided evidence that polymorphisms in the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene sequence are associated with cancer development, but a comprehensive synopsis is not available. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available molecular epidemiology data regarding the association between TERT locus polymorphisms and predisposition to cancer.
A systematic review of the English literature was conducted by searching PubMed, Embase, Cancerlit, Google Scholar, and ISI Web of Knowledge databases for studies on associations between TERT locus polymorphisms and cancer risk. Random-effects meta-analysis was performed to pool per-allele odds ratios for TERT locus polymorphisms and risk of cancer, and between-study heterogeneity and potential bias sources (eg, publication and chasing bias) were assessed. Because the TERT locus includes the cleft lip and palate transmembrane 1-like (CLPTM1L) gene, which is in linkage disequilibrium with TERT, CLPTM1L polymorphisms were also analyzed. Cumulative evidence for polymorphisms with statistically significant associations was graded as "strong," "moderate," and "weak" according to the Venice criteria. The joint population attributable risk was calculated for polymorphisms with strong evidence of association.
Eighty-five studies enrolling 490 901 subjects and reporting on 494 allelic contrasts were retrieved. Data were available on 67 TERT locus polymorphisms and 24 tumor types, for a total of 221 unique combinations of polymorphisms and cancer types. Upon meta-analysis, a statistically significant association with the risk of any cancer type was found for 22 polymorphisms. Strong, moderate, and weak cumulative evidence for association with at least one tumor type was demonstrated for 11, 9, and 14 polymorphisms, respectively. For lung cancer, which was the most studied tumor type, the estimated joint population attributable risk for three polymorphisms (TERT rs2736100, intergenic rs4635969, and CLPTM1L rs402710) was 41%. Strong evidence for lack of association was identified for five polymorphisms in three tumor types.
To our knowledge, this is the largest collection of data for associations between TERT locus polymorphisms and cancer risk. Our findings support the hypothesis that genetic variability in this genomic region can modulate cancer susceptibility in humans.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Journal of the National Cancer Institute
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Observations in human tumours, as well as mouse models, have indicated that telomere dysfunction may be a key event driving genomic instability and disease progression in many solid tumour types. In this scenario, telomere shortening ultimately results in telomere dysfunction, fusion and genomic instability, creating the large-scale rearrangements that are characteristic of these tumours. It is now becoming apparent that this paradigm may also apply to haematological malignancies; indeed these conditions have provided some of the most convincing evidence of telomere dysfunction in any malignancy. Telomere length has been shown in several malignancies to provide clinically useful prognostic information, implicating telomere dysfunction in disease progression. In these malignancies extreme telomere shortening, telomere dysfunction and fusion have all been documented and correlate with the emergence of increased genomic complexity. Telomeres may therefore represent both a clinically useful prognostic tool and a potential target for therapeutic intervention.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · British Journal of Haematology