Telomeres and telomerase in oncogenesis (Review)
- Tomasz Trybek
- Artur Kowalik
- Stanisław Góźdź
- Aldona Kowalska
Affiliations: Endocrinology Clinic, Holycross Cancer Center, 25‑734 Kielce, Poland, Department of Molecular Diagnostics, Holycross Cancer Center, 25‑734 Kielce, Poland, The Faculty of Health Sciences, Jan Kochanowski University, 25‑319 Kielce, Poland
- Published online on: May 21, 2020 https://doi.org/10.3892/ol.2020.11659
Copyright: © Trybek
et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Commons Attribution License.
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Telomeres are located at the ends of chromosomes and protect them from degradation. Suppressing the activity of telomerase, a telomere‑synthesizing enzyme, and maintaining short telomeres is a protective mechanism against cancer in humans. In most human somatic cells, the expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is repressed and telomerase activity is inhibited. This leads to the progressive shortening of telomeres and inhibition of cell growth in a process called replicative senescence. Most types of primary cancer exhibit telomerase activation, which allows uncontrolled cell proliferation. Previous research indicates that TERT activation also affects cancer development through activities other than the canonical function of mediating telomere elongation. Recent studies have improved the understanding of the structure and function of telomeres and telomerase as well as key mechanisms underlying the activation of TERT and its role in oncogenesis. These advances led to a search for drugs that inhibit telomerase as a target for cancer therapy. The present review article summarizes the organization and function of telomeres, their role in carcinogenesis, and advances in telomerase‑targeted therapy.