Regulation of telomerase in stem cells and cancer cells

June 27, 2012, Max Planck Society

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg have gained important insights for stem cell research which are also applicable to human tumours and could lead to the development of new treatments. As Rolf Kemler's research group discovered, a molecular link exists between the telomerase that determines the length of the telomeres and a signalling pathway known as the Wnt/β-signalling pathway.

Telomeres are the end caps of chromosomes that play a very important role in the stability of the genome. in stem cells are long and become shorter during differentiation or with age, but lengthen again in tumour cells.

The Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway controls numerous processes in embryonic development, such as the formation of the body axis and of organ primordia, and is particularly active in embryonic and adult stem cells. The β-catenin protein plays a key role in this signalling pathway. The incorrect regulation or mutation of β-catenin leads to the development of tumours.

Rolf Kemler's research group has now shown that β-catenin regulates the telomerase gene directly, and has explained the molecular mechanism at work here. Embryonic stem cells with mutated β-catenin generate more telomerase and have extended telomeres, while cells without β-catenin have low levels of and have shortened telomeres.

This regulation mechanism can also be found in human cancer cells. These discoveries could lead to the development of a new approach to the treatment of human tumours.

Explore further: To prevent leukemia's dreaded return, go for the stem cells

More information: Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling Regulates Telomerase in Stem Cells and Cancer Cells, Katrin Hoffmeyer, Angelo Raggioli, Stefan Rudloff, Roman Anton, Andreas Hierholzer, Ignacio Del Valle, Kerstin Hein, Riana Vogt, Rolf Kemler, Science 22 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6088 pp. 1549-1554
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218370

Related Stories

To prevent leukemia's dreaded return, go for the stem cells

April 5, 2012
Researchers reporting in the April Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, have found a way to stop leukemia stem cells in their tracks. The advance in mice suggests that a combination approach to therapy might stamp out ...

Regulating nuclear signalling in cancer

August 4, 2011
Research findings published recently in Nature Communications describe a completely new way in which TGFβ receptors regulate nuclear signalling. The findings are significant given that this new signalling pathway seems ...

Recommended for you

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

Scientists unleash power of genetic data to identify disease risk

January 16, 2018
Massive banks of genetic information are being harnessed to shed new light on modifiable health risks that underlie common diseases.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.