European Journal of Cancer (Oxford, England: 1990)
This article reviews the current understanding of the involvement of telomerase in in vitro immortalisation of human cells. In vitro immortalisation with DNA tumour viruses or chemicals usually occurs in two phases. The first stage is an extension of lifespan beyond that at which cells would normally senescence, after which the culture enters a period of crisis. The second stage involves the escape from crisis of a rare cell in the culture, which goes on to proliferate indefinitely.
The biology of telomeres and telomerase has been the subject of intensive investigative effort since it became evident that they play a significant role in two important biological processes, the loss of cellular replicative capacity inherent to organismal ageing and the unrestricted cell proliferation characteristic of carcinogenesis. Telomere shortening in normal cells is a result of DNA replication events, and reduction beyond a critical length is a signal for cellular senescence.
The proliferative lifespan of normal mammalian cells is limited by intrinsic controls, which desensitize the cell-cycle machinery to extrinsic stimulation after a given number of cell divisions. One underlying clock driving this process of 'replicative senescence' is the progressive erosion of chromosome telomeres, which occurs with each round of DNA replication. This appears to trigger growth inhibition via activation of the tumour suppressor gene (TSG) product, p53, and the consequent up-regulation of the cell-cycle inhibitor p21WAF1.
Human cancer cells, unlike their normal counterparts, have shed the molecular restraints to limited cell growth and are immortal. Exactly how cancer cells manage this at the molecular level is beginning to be understood. Human cells must overcome two barriers to cellular proliferation. The first barrier, referred to as senescence, minimally involves the p53 and Rb tumor-suppressor pathways. Inactivation of these pathways results in some extension of lifespan. However, inactivation of these pathways is insufficient for immortalization.
PURPOSE: Telomeres are specialized DNA-protein complexes found at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. In normal somatic cells these become shorter with each cell division and appear to control their replicative lifespan. However almost all tumours show activation of the enzyme telomerase, a specialised reverse transcriptase/DNA polymerase, that can add new telomeric repeats to the ends of chromosomes and this appears to be a key factor in the cell immortalization process.
It is widely held that caloric restriction (CR) extends lifespan by preventing or reducing the age-related accumulation of irreversible molecular damage. In contrast, our results suggest that CR can act rapidly to begin life and health span extension, and that its rapid genomic effects are closely linked to its health effects. We found that CR begins to extend lifespan and reduce cancer as a cause of death within 8 weeks in older mice, apparently by reducing the rate of tumor growth.
Ageing is associated with an increased onset of cancer. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie the age dependency of cancer will have important implications for preventing and treating this pathology. The signalling pathway connecting insulin and FOXO transcription factors provides the most compelling example for a conserved genetic pathway at the interface between ageing and cancer. FOXO transcription factors (FOXO) promote longevity and tumour suppression.
An association between aging/longevity and cancer has long been suggested, yet the evolutionary and molecular links between these complicated traits remain elusive. Here, we analyze the relationship between longevity- and cancer-associated genes/proteins (LAGs/LAPs and CAGs/CAPs, respectively). Specifically, we address the following questions: (1) to what extent the CAGs and LAGs are evolutionary conserved and how they (or their orthologs) are related to each other in diverse species?
There is a considerable variation in individual lifespan among cancer patients with identical diagnosis. We used damped exponential approximation, which includes both single- and double-compartment extension, for radiobiological assessment of survival curves among cases of breast, lung and oro-pharyngeal cancer. It was shown that in certain cases (breast--T2N1-2M0T3N1-2M0 and oro-pharyngeal cancer--T2-4N1-3M0) the curves can be identified with the two compartments which in turn are associated with different rates of mortality.
Studies in a variety of model organisms indicate that nutrient signaling is tightly coupled to longevity. In nutrient replete conditions, organisms develop, grow, and age quickly. When nutrients become sparse as with dietary restriction, growth and development decline, stress response pathways become induced and organisms live longer. Considerable effort has been devoted to understanding the molecular events mediating lifespan extension by dietary restriction.