Increased Telomerase Activity in Mouse Skin Premalignant Progression

Andrzej Bednarek, Irina Budunova, Thomas J. Slaga, C. Marcelo Aldaz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


It has been postulated that the expression of the ribonucleoprotein telomerase is necessary to overcome cellular senescence and that malignant tumors must express telomerase to maintain their immortality. In most human adult tissues, telomerase activity is not detected. In contrast, several murine tissues express various levels of telomerase. Mouse skin however, does not show telomerase activity. Using the mouse skin chemical carcinogenesis system, a well-characterized model for studying premalignant and malignant progression, we assayed telomerase activity at various stages of premalignant papilloma progression by means of the recently developed telomeric repeat amplification protocol. We observed that at 10 weeks of promotion, only one mouse skin papilloma of 11 analyzed showed high levels of telomerase activity. The number of papillomas showing higher levels of telomerase activity increased at 20 weeks, and at 50 weeks of promotion, 100% of papillomas expressed significantly higher levels of telomerase. We learned from previous studies that early papillomas are diploid, well-differentiated lesions, whereas late papillomas are aneuploid and very dysplastic. It appears that the progressive increase in telomerase activity is associated with the increased level of genomic instability and the phenotypic progression of these premalignant tumors. It is also possible, however, that the increase in telomerase activity could be in part a consequence of an increase in the proportion of proliferating cells. Nevertheless, the mouse skin system may be a very useful in vivo model for the study and development of anti-telomerase therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4566-4569
Number of pages4
JournalCancer Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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