Restoration of telomeres in human papillomavirus-immortalized human anogenital epithelial cells

Aloysius J. Klingelhutz, Sheila A. Barber, Patricia P. Smith, Karen Dyer, James K. McDougall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Loss of telomeres has been hypothesized to be important in cellular senescence and may play a role in carcinogenesis. In this study, we have measured telomere length in association with the immortalization and transformation of human cervical and foreskin epithelial cells by the human papillomavirus type 16 or 18 E6 and E7 open reading frames. By using a telomeric TTAGGG repeat probe, it was shown that the telomeres of precrisis normal and E6-, E7-, and E6/E7-expressing cells gradually shortened with passaging (30 to 100 bp per population doubling). Cells that expressed both E6 and E7 went through a crisis period and gave rise to immortalized lines. In contrast to precrisis cells, E6/E7-immortalized cells generally showed an increase in telomere length as they were passaged in culture, with some later passage lines having telomeres that were similar to or longer than the earliest-passage precrisis cells examined. No consistent association could be made between telomere length and tumorigenicity of cells in nude mice. However, of the three cell lines that grew in vivo, two had long telomeres, thus arguing against the hypothesis that cancer cells favor shortened telomeres. Our results indicate that arrest of telomere shortening may be important in human papillomavirus-associated immortalization and that restoration of telomere length may be advantageous to cells with regard to their ability to proliferate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-969
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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