Telomerase activity associated with acquisition of malignancy in human colorectal cancer.
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Shortening of telomeres may contribute to the control of the proliferative capacity of normal cells, and telomerase, the enzyme that elongates telomeric DNA, may be essential for unlimited cell proliferation. We have shown previously that telomerase activity is present in human cells immortalized in vitro and in metastatic ovarian carcinoma cells but is undetectable in normal cultured cells or normal tissues. We have determined the temporal pattern of telomerase activity during colorectal carcinogenesis in man. We report that telomerase activity is associated with acquisition of malignancy as it is detectable in colorectal carcinoma but not in adenomatous polyps. Mutations leading to reactivation or upregulation of the enzyme may represent an additional required event in the multistep development of colorectal cancer.
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