Telomerase plays a critical role in the development of cellular immortality and oncogenesis. Activation of telomerase occurs in a majority of human malignant tumours, and the relation between telomerase and vulnerability to drug-mediated apoptosis remains unclear. In this study, we demonstrate, for the first time, up-regulation of telomerase activity in human pancreatic cancer cells treated with etoposide, a topoisomerase II inhibitor. Exposure of MIA PaCa-2 cells to etoposide at various concentrations (1-30 μM) resulted in two- to threefold increases in telomerase activity. Up-regulation was detectable 24 h after drug exposure and was accompanied by enhanced expression of mRNA of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase. Telomerase activation was also observed in AsPC-1 and PANC-1 cells but not in KP-3 and KP-1N cells. Furthermore, we found a negative correlation between increased telomerase activity and the percentage of dead cells after etoposide treatment. These findings suggest the existence of an anti-apoptotic pathway through which telomerase is up-regulated in response to DNA damage. This telomerase activation pathway may be one of the mechanisms responsible for the development of etoposide resistance in certain pancreatic cancer cells. (C) 2000 Cancer Research Campaign.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research