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1.  Rapalogs and mTOR inhibitors as anti-aging therapeutics 
Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR), has the strongest experimental support to date as a potential anti-aging therapeutic in mammals. Unlike many other compounds that have been claimed to influence longevity, rapamycin has been repeatedly tested in long-lived, genetically heterogeneous mice, in which it extends both mean and maximum life spans. However, the mechanism that accounts for these effects is far from clear, and a growing list of side effects make it doubtful that rapamycin would ultimately be beneficial in humans. This Review discusses the prospects for developing newer, safer anti-aging therapies based on analogs of rapamycin (termed rapalogs) or other approaches targeting mTOR signaling.
PMCID: PMC3582126  PMID: 23454761
2.  Evaluation of Resveratrol, Green Tea Extract, Curcumin, Oxaloacetic Acid, and Medium-Chain Triglyceride Oil on Life Span of Genetically Heterogeneous Mice 
The National Institute on Aging Interventions Testing Program (ITP) was established to evaluate agents that are hypothesized to increase life span and/or health span in genetically heterogeneous mice. Each compound is tested in parallel at three test sites. It is the goal of the ITP to publish all results, negative or positive. We report here on the results of lifelong treatment of mice, beginning at 4 months of age, with each of five agents, that is, green tea extract (GTE), curcumin, oxaloacetic acid, medium-chain triglyceride oil, and resveratrol, on the life span of genetically heterogeneous mice. Each agent was administered beginning at 4 months of age. None of these five agents had a statistically significant effect on life span of male or female mice, by log-rank test, at the concentrations tested, although a secondary analysis suggested that GTE might diminish the risk of midlife deaths in females only.
PMCID: PMC3598361  PMID: 22451473
Longevity; aging; mice; diet; Interventions
3.  Primary Respiratory Chain Disease Causes Tissue-Specific Dysregulation of the Global Transcriptome and Nutrient-Sensing Signaling Network 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69282.
Primary mitochondrial respiratory chain (RC) diseases are heterogeneous in etiology and manifestations but collectively impair cellular energy metabolism. Mechanism(s) by which RC dysfunction causes global cellular sequelae are poorly understood. To identify a common cellular response to RC disease, integrated gene, pathway, and systems biology analyses were performed in human primary RC disease skeletal muscle and fibroblast transcriptomes. Significant changes were evident in muscle across diverse RC complex and genetic etiologies that were consistent with prior reports in other primary RC disease models and involved dysregulation of genes involved in RNA processing, protein translation, transport, and degradation, and muscle structure. Global transcriptional and post-transcriptional dysregulation was also found to occur in a highly tissue-specific fashion. In particular, RC disease muscle had decreased transcription of cytosolic ribosomal proteins suggestive of reduced anabolic processes, increased transcription of mitochondrial ribosomal proteins, shorter 5′-UTRs that likely improve translational efficiency, and stabilization of 3′-UTRs containing AU-rich elements. RC disease fibroblasts showed a strikingly similar pattern of global transcriptome dysregulation in a reverse direction. In parallel with these transcriptional effects, RC disease dysregulated the integrated nutrient-sensing signaling network involving FOXO, PPAR, sirtuins, AMPK, and mTORC1, which collectively sense nutrient availability and regulate cellular growth. Altered activities of central nodes in the nutrient-sensing signaling network were validated by phosphokinase immunoblot analysis in RC inhibited cells. Remarkably, treating RC mutant fibroblasts with nicotinic acid to enhance sirtuin and PPAR activity also normalized mTORC1 and AMPK signaling, restored NADH/NAD+ redox balance, and improved cellular respiratory capacity. These data specifically highlight a common pathogenesis extending across different molecular and biochemical etiologies of individual RC disorders that involves global transcriptome modifications. We further identify the integrated nutrient-sensing signaling network as a common cellular response that mediates, and may be amenable to targeted therapies for, tissue-specific sequelae of primary mitochondrial RC disease.
PMCID: PMC3722174  PMID: 23894440
4.  Rapamycin doses sufficient to extend lifespan do not compromise muscle mitochondrial content or endurance 
Aging (Albany NY)  2013;5(7):539-550.
Rapamycin extends lifespan in mice, but can have a number of undesirable effects that may ultimately limit its utility in humans. The canonical target of rapamycin, and the one thought to account for its effects on lifespan, is the mammalian/mechanistic target of rapamycin, complex 1 (mTORC1). We have previously shown that at least some of the detrimental side effects of rapamycin are due to “off target” disruption of mTORC2, suggesting they could be avoided by more specific targeting of mTORC1. However, mTORC1 inhibition per se can reduce the mRNA expression of mitochondrial genes and compromise the function of mitochondria in cultured muscle cells, implying that defects in bioenergetics might be an unavoidable consequence of targeting mTORC1 in vivo. Therefore, we tested whether rapamycin, at the same doses used to extend lifespan, affects mitochondrial function in skeletal muscle. While mitochondrial transcripts were decreased, particularly in the highly oxidative soleus muscle, we found no consistent change in mitochondrial DNA or protein levels. In agreement with the lack of change in mitochondrial components, rapamycin-treated mice had endurance equivalent to that of untreated controls, and isolated, permeabilized muscle fibers displayed similar rates of oxygen consumption. We conclude that the doses of rapamycin required to extend life do not cause overt mitochondrial dysfunction in skeletal muscle.
PMCID: PMC3765582  PMID: 23929887
Biogenesis; longevity; endurance; sarcopenia; mTOR; PGC-1alpha
5.  SIRT1 is required for AMPK activation and the beneficial effects of resveratrol on mitochondrial function 
Cell metabolism  2012;15(5):675-690.
Resveratrol induces mitochondrial biogenesis and protects against metabolic decline but whether SIRT1 mediates these benefits is the subject of debate. To circumvent the developmental defects of germ-line SIRT1 knockouts, we have developed the first inducible system that permits whole-body deletion of SIRT1 in adult mice. Mice treated with a moderate dose of resveratrol showed increased mitochondrial biogenesis and function, AMPK activation and increased NAD+ levels in skeletal muscle, whereas SIRT1 knockouts displayed none of these benefits. A mouse overexpressing SIRT1 mimicked these effects. A high dose of resveratrol activated AMPK in a SIRT1-independent manner, demonstrating that resveratrol dosage is a critical factor. Importantly, at both doses of resveratrol no improvements in mitochondrial function were observed in animals lacking SIRT1. Together these data indicate that SIRT1 plays an essential role in the ability of moderate doses of resveratrol to stimulate AMPK and improve mitochondrial function both in vitro and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3545644  PMID: 22560220
6.  Challenges of Translating Basic Research Into Therapeutics: Resveratrol as an Example 
Basic science literature abounds with molecules that promise to ameliorate almost any disease, from curing cancer to slowing the aging process itself. However, most of these compounds will never even be evaluated in humans, let alone proven effective. Here, we use resveratrol as an example to highlight the enormous difficulties in understanding pharmacokinetics, determining side effects, and, ultimately, establishing mechanisms of action for a natural compound. Despite extensive interest and effort, and continuing promising results from basic science groups, very little is known even today about the effects of resveratrol in humans. Part of the problem is the unattractiveness of natural compounds to large, well-funded companies that could run clinical trials because developing their own molecules affords much greater protection for their intellectual property. In fact, selling unpatentable material motivates smaller nutraceutical companies to complicate the scientific problem even more—each creates its own proprietary blend, making it extremely difficult to compare their data with those of other companies, or of academic labs using pure compounds. But even beyond these problems lies a deeper one; resveratrol, and almost every natural compound, is likely to have many clinically relevant targets with different dose–response profiles, tissue distributions, and modifiers. Tackling this type of problem efficiently, and even beginning to address the spectrum of other molecules with claimed benefits, is likely to require the development of new paradigms and approaches. Examples include better molecular modeling to predict interactions, large-scale screens for toxic or other common effects, affinity-based methods to identify drug-interacting proteins, and better synthesis of existing data, including legislation to promote the release of trial results, and tracking of voluntary supplement usage. The evidence for benefits of resveratrol in humans remains too sparse to be conclusive; yet, the limited data that are available, combined with a growing list of animal studies, provide a strong justification for further study.
PMCID: PMC3261440  PMID: 21746739
Clinical trials; Translational; Nutraceutical; Metabolism; Polyphenol
8.  Design and synthesis of compounds that extend yeast replicative lifespan 
Aging cell  2006;6(1):35-43.
This past decade has seen the identification of numerous conserved genes that extend lifespan in diverse species, yet the number of compounds that extend lifespan is relatively small. A class of compounds called STACs, which were identified as activators of Sir2/SIRT1 NAD+-dependent deacetylases, extend the lifespans of multiple species in a Sir2-dependent manner and can delay the onset of age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and neurodegeneration in model organisms. Plant-derived STACs such as fisetin and resveratrol have several liabilities, including poor stability and relatively low potency as SIRT1 activators. To develop improved STACs, stilbene derivatives with modifications at the 4′ position of the B ring were synthesized using a Horner-Emmons-based synthetic route or by hydrolyzing deoxyrhapontin. Here, we describe synthetic STACs with lower toxicity toward human cells, and higher potency with respect to SIRT1 activation and lifespan extension in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These studies show that it is possible to improve upon naturally occurring STACs based on a number of criteria including lifespan extension.
PMCID: PMC3545651  PMID: 17156081
lifespan; longevity; resveratrol; SIRT1; sirtuins; STACs
9.  Rapamycin has a biphasic effect on insulin sensitivity in C2C12 myotubes due to sequential disruption of mTORC1 and mTORC2 
Frontiers in Genetics  2012;3:177.
Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), improves insulin sensitivity in acute studies in vitro and in vivo by disrupting a negative feedback loop mediated by S6 kinase. We find that rapamycin has a clear biphasic effect on insulin sensitivity in C2C12 myotubes, with enhanced responsiveness during the first hour that declines to almost complete insulin resistance by 24–48 h. We and others have recently observed that chronic rapamycin treatment induces insulin resistance in rodents, at least in part due to disruption of mTORC2, an mTOR-containing complex that is not acutely sensitive to the drug. Chronic rapamycin treatment may also impair insulin action via the inhibition of mTORC1-dependent mitochondrial biogenesis and activity, which could result in a buildup of lipid intermediates that are known to trigger insulin resistance. We confirmed that rapamycin inhibits expression of PGC-1α, a key mitochondrial transcription factor, and acutely reduces respiration rate in myotubes. However, rapamycin did not stimulate phosphorylation of PKCθ, a central mediator of lipid-induced insulin resistance. Instead, we found dramatic disruption of mTORC2, which coincided with the onset of insulin resistance. Selective inhibition of mTORC1 or mTORC2 by shRNA-mediated knockdown of specific components (Raptor and Rictor, respectively) confirmed that mitochondrial effects of rapamycin are mTORC1-dependent, whereas insulin resistance was recapitulated only by knockdown of mTORC2. Thus, mTORC2 disruption, rather than inhibition of mitochondria, causes insulin resistance in rapamycin-treated myotubes, and this system may serve as a useful model to understand the effects of rapamycin on mTOR signaling in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3438685  PMID: 22973301
mTOR; mTORC1; rapamycin; mTORC2; insulin sensitivity; mitochondrial biogenesis; chronic; diabetes; raptor; rictor; respiration
10.  Mitochondrial Protection by Resveratrol 
Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress are thought to play important roles in mammalian aging. Resveratrol is a plant-derived polyphenol that exerts diverse anti-aging activities, mimicking some of the molecular and functional effects of dietary restriction. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms underlying the mitochondrial protective effects of resveratrol, which could be exploited for the prevention or amelioration of age-related diseases in the elderly.
PMCID: PMC3123408  PMID: 21383627
senescence; bioenergetics; mitochondria; aging; caloric restriction; cardiovascular disease; phytochemicals; 3,5,4′-trihydroxystilbene
11.  Nutrient-Sensitive Mitochondrial NAD+ Levels Dictate Cell Survival 
Cell  2007;130(6):1095-1107.
A major cause of cell death caused by genotoxic stress is thought to be due to the depletion of NAD+ from the nucleus and the cytoplasm. Here we show that NAD+ levels in mitochondria remain at physiological levels following genotoxic stress and can maintain cell viability even when nuclear and cytoplasmic pools of NAD+ are depleted. Rodents fasted for 48 hr show increased levels of the NAD+ biosynthetic enzyme Nampt and a concomitant increase in mitochondrial NAD+. Increased Nampt provides protection against cell death and requires an intact mitochondrial NAD+ salvage pathway as well as the mitochondrial NAD+-dependent deacetylases SIRT3 and SIRT4. We discuss the relevance of these findings to understanding how nutrition modulates physiology and to the evolution of apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC3366687  PMID: 17889652
12.  Rapamycin-induced insulin resistance is mediated by mTORC2 loss and uncoupled from longevity 
Science (New York, N.y.)  2012;335(6076):1638-1643.
Rapamycin, an inhibitor of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), extends the lifespans of yeast, flies, and mice. Calorie restriction, which increases lifespan and insulin sensitivity, is proposed to function by inhibition of mTORC1, yet paradoxically, chronic administration of rapamycin substantially impairs glucose tolerance and insulin action. We demonstrate that rapamycin disrupted a second mTOR complex, mTORC2, in vivo and that mTORC2 was required for the insulin-mediated suppression of hepatic gluconeogenesis. Further, decreased mTORC1 signaling was sufficient to extend lifespan independently from changes in glucose homeostasis, as female mice heterozygous for both mTOR and mLST8 exhibited decreased mTORC1 activity and extended lifespan, but had normal glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Thus, mTORC2 disruption is an important mediator of the effects of rapamycin in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3324089  PMID: 22461615
13.  Rapamycin, But Not Resveratrol or Simvastatin, Extends Life Span of Genetically Heterogeneous Mice 
Rapamycin was administered in food to genetically heterogeneous mice from the age of 9 months and produced significant increases in life span, including maximum life span, at each of three test sites. Median survival was extended by an average of 10% in males and 18% in females. Rapamycin attenuated age-associated decline in spontaneous activity in males but not in females. Causes of death were similar in control and rapamycin-treated mice. Resveratrol (at 300 and 1200 ppm food) and simvastatin (12 and 120 ppm) did not have significant effects on survival in male or female mice. Further evaluation of rapamycin’s effects on mice is likely to help delineate the role of the mammalian target of rapamycin complexes in the regulation of aging rate and age-dependent diseases and may help to guide a search for drugs that retard some or all of the diseases of aging.
PMCID: PMC3021372  PMID: 20974732
TOR; Rapamycin; Life span; Resveratrol
14.  Mitochondrial genome sequence analysis: A custom bioinformatics pipeline substantially improves Affymetrix MitoChip v2.0 call rate and accuracy 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:402.
Mitochondrial genome sequence analysis is critical to the diagnostic evaluation of mitochondrial disease. Existing methodologies differ widely in throughput, complexity, cost efficiency, and sensitivity of heteroplasmy detection. Affymetrix MitoChip v2.0, which uses a sequencing-by-genotyping technology, allows potentially accurate and high-throughput sequencing of the entire human mitochondrial genome to be completed in a cost-effective fashion. However, the relatively low call rate achieved using existing software tools has limited the wide adoption of this platform for either clinical or research applications. Here, we report the design and development of a custom bioinformatics software pipeline that achieves a much improved call rate and accuracy for the Affymetrix MitoChip v2.0 platform. We used this custom pipeline to analyze MitoChip v2.0 data from 24 DNA samples representing a broad range of tissue types (18 whole blood, 3 skeletal muscle, 3 cell lines), mutations (a 5.8 kilobase pair deletion and 6 known heteroplasmic mutations), and haplogroup origins. All results were compared to those obtained by at least one other mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis method, including Sanger sequencing, denaturing HPLC-based heteroduplex analysis, and/or the Illumina Genome Analyzer II next generation sequencing platform.
An average call rate of 99.75% was achieved across all samples with our custom pipeline. Comparison of calls for 15 samples characterized previously by Sanger sequencing revealed a total of 29 discordant calls, which translates to an estimated 0.012% for the base call error rate. We successfully identified 4 known heteroplasmic mutations and 24 other potential heteroplasmic mutations across 20 samples that passed quality control.
Affymetrix MitoChip v2.0 analysis using our optimized MitoChip Filtering Protocol (MFP) bioinformatics pipeline now offers the high sensitivity and accuracy needed for reliable, high-throughput and cost-efficient whole mitochondrial genome sequencing. This approach provides a viable alternative of potential utility for both clinical diagnostic and research applications to traditional Sanger and other emerging sequencing technologies for whole mitochondrial genome analysis.
PMCID: PMC3234255  PMID: 22011106
15.  SRT1720 improves survival and healthspan of obese mice 
Scientific Reports  2011;1:70.
Sirt1 is an NAD+-dependent deacetylase that extends lifespan in lower organisms and improves metabolism and delays the onset of age-related diseases in mammals. Here we show that SRT1720, a synthetic compound that was identified for its ability to activate Sirt1 in vitro, extends both mean and maximum lifespan of adult mice fed a high-fat diet. This lifespan extension is accompanied by health benefits including reduced liver steatosis, increased insulin sensitivity, enhanced locomotor activity and normalization of gene expression profiles and markers of inflammation and apoptosis, all in the absence of any observable toxicity. Using a conditional SIRT1 knockout mouse and specific gene knockdowns we show SRT1720 affects mitochondrial respiration in a Sirt1- and PGC-1α-dependent manner. These findings indicate that SRT1720 has long-term benefits and demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of designing novel molecules that are safe and effective in promoting longevity and preventing multiple age-related diseases in mammals.
PMCID: PMC3216557  PMID: 22355589
16.  Biochemical Effects of SIRT1 Activators 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2009;1804(8):1626-1634.
PMCID: PMC2886178  PMID: 19897059
17.  What Is New for an Old Molecule? Systematic Review and Recommendations on the Use of Resveratrol 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e19881.
Resveratrol is a natural compound suggested to have beneficial health effects. However, people are consuming resveratrol for this reason without having the adequate scientific evidence for its effects in humans. Therefore, scientific valid recommendations concerning the human intake of resveratrol based on available published scientific data are necessary. Such recommendations were formulated after the Resveratrol 2010 conference, held in September 2010 in Helsingør, Denmark.
Literature search in databases as PubMed and ISI Web of Science in combination with manual search was used to answer the following five questions: 1Can resveratrol be recommended in the prevention or treatment of human diseases?; 2Are there observed “side effects” caused by the intake of resveratrol in humans?; 3What is the relevant dose of resveratrol?; 4What valid data are available regarding an effect in various species of experimental animals?; 5Which relevant (overall) mechanisms of action of resveratrol have been documented?
The overall conclusion is that the published evidence is not sufficiently strong to justify a recommendation for the administration of resveratrol to humans, beyond the dose which can be obtained from dietary sources. On the other hand, animal data are promising in prevention of various cancer types, coronary heart diseases and diabetes which strongly indicate the need for human clinical trials. Finally, we suggest directions for future research in resveratrol regarding its mechanism of action and its safety and toxicology in human subjects.
PMCID: PMC3116821  PMID: 21698226
18.  Resveratrol, Sirtuins, and the Promise of a DR Mimetic 
Dietary restriction (DR) delays or prevents age-related diseases and extends lifespan in species ranging from yeast to primates. Although the applicability of this regimen to humans remains uncertain, a proportional response would add more healthy years to the average life than even a cure for cancer or heart disease. Because it is unlikely that many would be willing or able to maintain a DR lifestyle, there has been intense interest in mimicking its beneficial effects on health, and potentially longevity, with drugs. To date, such efforts have been hindered primarily by our lack of mechanistic understanding of how DR works. Sirtuins, NAD+-dependent deacetylases and ADP-ribosyltransferases that influence lifespan in lower organisms, have been proposed to be key mediators of DR, and based on this model, the sirtuin activator resveratrol has been proposed as a candidate DRmimetic. Indeed, resveratrol extends lifespan in yeast, worms, flies, and a short-lived species of fish. In rodents, resveratrol improves health, and prevents the early mortality associated with obesity, but its precise mechanism of action remains a subject of debate, and extension of normal lifespan has not been observed. This review summarizes recent work on resveratrol, sirtuins, and their potential to mimic beneficial effects of DR.
PMCID: PMC2862768  PMID: 20219519
Resveratrol; Sirtuins; Dietary Restriction; Longevity; Mimetic
19.  Resveratrol delays age-related deterioration and mimics transcriptional aspects of dietary restriction without extending lifespan 
Cell metabolism  2008;8(2):157-168.
A small molecule that safely mimics the ability of dietary restriction (DR) to delay age-related diseases in laboratory animals is greatly sought after. We and others have shown that resveratrol mimics effects of DR in lower organisms. In mice, we find that resveratrol induces gene expression patterns in multiple tissues that parallel those induced by DR and every-other-day feeding. Moreover, resveratrol-fed elderly mice show a marked reduction in signs of aging including reduced albuminuria, decreased inflammation and apoptosis in the vascular endothelium, increased aortic elasticity, greater motor coordination, reduced cataract formation, and preserved bone mineral density. However, mice fed a standard diet did not live longer when treated with resveratrol beginning at 12 months of age. Our findings indicate that resveratrol treatment has a range of beneficial effects in mice but does not increase the longevity of ad libitum-fed animals when started mid-life.
PMCID: PMC2538685  PMID: 18599363
20.  Telomere length regulates ISG15 expression in human cells 
Aging  2009;1(7):608-621.
Endogenous genes regulated by telomere length have not previously been identified in human cells. Here we show that telomere length regulates the expression of interferon stimulated gene 15 (ISG15, 1p36.33). ISG15 expression (RNA and protein) increases in human cells with short telomeres, and decreases following the elongation of telomeres by human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). The short-telomere-dependent up-regulation of ISG15 is not mediated by replicative senescence/DNA damage signaling or type I interferons. In human skin specimens obtained from various aged individuals, ISG15 is up-regulated in a subset of cells in older individuals. Our results demonstrate that endogenous human genes can be regulated by the length of telomeres prior to the onset of DNA damage signals, and suggest the possibility that cell turnover/telomere shortening may provide a mechanism for adjusting cellular physiology. The upregulation of ISG15 with telomere shortening may contribute to chronic inflammatory states associated with human aging.
PMCID: PMC2806043  PMID: 20157543
telomere position effect; ISG15; aging; cancer; cell turnover; inflammation
21.  Inhibition of mammalian S6 kinase by resveratrol suppresses autophagy 
Aging (Albany NY)  2009;1(6):515-528.
Resveratrol is a plant-derived polyphenol that promotes health and disease resistance in rodent models, and extends lifespan in lower organisms. A major challenge is to understand the biological processes and molecular pathways by which resveratrol induces these beneficial effects. Autophagy is a critical process by which cells turn over damaged components and maintain bioenergetic requirements. Disruption of the normal balance between pro- and anti-autophagic signals is linked to cancer, liver disease, and neurodegenerative disorders. Here we show that resveratrol attenuates autophagy in response to nutrient limitation or rapamycin in multiple cell lines through a pathway independent of a known target, SIRT1. In a large-scalein vitro kinase screen we identified p70 S6 kinase (S6K1) as a target of resveratrol. Blocking S6K1 activity by expression of a dominant-negative mutant or RNA interference is sufficient to disrupt autophagy to a similar extent as resveratrol. Furthermore, co-administration of resveratrol with S6K1 knockdown does not produce an additive effect. These data indicate that S6K1 is important for the full induction of autophagy in mammals and raise the possibility that some of the beneficial effects of resveratrol are due to modulation of S6K1 activity.
PMCID: PMC2806030  PMID: 20157535
Resveratrol; autophagy; p70 S6 kinase; S6K1; autophagosome; nutrient withdrawal
22.  An Alternate Splicing Variant of the Human Telomerase Catalytic Subunit Inhibits Telomerase Activity1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2000;2(5):433-440.
Telomerase, a cellular reverse transcriptase, adds telomeric repeats to chromosome ends. In normal human somatic cells, telomerase is repressed and telomeres progressively shorten, leading to proliferative senescence. Introduction of the telomerase (hTERT) cDNA is sufficient to produce telomerase activity and immortalize normal human cells, suggesting that the repression of telomerase activity is transcriptional. The telomerase transcript has been shown to have at least six alternate splicing sites (four insertion sites and two deletion sites), and variants containing both or either of the deletion sites are present during development and in a panel of cancer cell lines we surveyed. One deletion (β site) and all four insertions cause premature translation terminations, whereas the other deletion (α site) is 36 bp and lies within reverse transcriptase (RT) motif A, suggesting that this deletion variant may be a candidate as a dominant-negative inhibitor of telomerase. We have cloned three alternately spliced hTERT variants that contain the α, β or both α and β deletion sites. These alternate splicing variants along with empty vector and wild-type hTERT were introduced into normal human fibroblasts and several telomerase-positive immortal and tumor cell lines. Expression of the α site deletion variant (hTERT α-) construct was confirmed by Western blotting. We found that none of the three alternate splicing variants reconstitutes telomerase activity in fibroblasts. However, hTERT α- inhibits telomerase activities in telomerase-positive cells, causes telomere shortening and eventually cell death. This alternately spliced dominant-negative variant may be important in understanding telomerase regulation during development, differentiation and in cancer progression.
PMCID: PMC1507981  PMID: 11191110
human telomerase; alternate splicing; dominant-negative inhibitor; telomere; apoptosis

Results 1-22 (22)