Differential TERT promoter methylation and response to 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine in acute myeloid leukemia cell lines: TERT expression, telomerase activity, telomere length, and cell death

Kerry A Pettigrew, Richard N Armstrong, Hilary A A Colyer, Shu-Dong Zhang, Irene Maeve Rea, Rhiannon E Jones, Duncan M Baird, Ken I Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The catalytic subunit of human telomerase (TERT) is highly expressed in cancer cells, and correlates with complex cytogenetics and disease severity in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The TERT promoter is situated within a large CpG island, suggesting that expression is methylation-sensitive. Studies suggest a correlation between hypermethylation and TERT overexpression. We investigated the relationship between TERT promoter methylation and expression and telomerase activity in human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines. DAC-induced demethylation and cell death were observed in all three cell lines, as well as telomere shortening in HL-60 cells. DAC treatment reduced TERT expression and telomerase activity in OCI/AML3 and HL-60 cells, but not in U937 cells. Control U937 cells expressed lower levels of TERT mRNA, carried a highly methylated TERT core promoter, and proved more resistant to DAC-induced repression of TERT expression and cell death. AML patients had significantly lower methylation levels at several CpGs than "well elderly" individuals. This study, the first to investigate the relationship between TERT methylation and telomerase activity in leukemia cells, demonstrated a differential methylation pattern and response to DAC in three AML cell lines. We suggest that, although DAC treatment reduces TERT expression and telomerase activity, this is unlikely to occur via direct demethylation of the TERT promoter. However, further investigations on the regions spanning CpGs 7-12 and 14-16 may reveal valuable information regarding transcriptional regulation of TERT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-80
Number of pages13
JournalGENES CHROMOSOMES & CANCER
Volume51
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Genetics

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