Function of AP-1 in transcription of the telomerase reverse transcriptase gene (TERT) in human and mouse cells

Masahiro Takakura, Satoru Kyo, Masaki Inoue, Woodring E. Wright, Jerry W. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


The transcriptional regulation of the human telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT) plays a critical role in telomerase activity. Approximately 200 bp of the proximal core promoter is responsible for basic hTERT expression; however, the function of the distal regulatory elements remains unclear. The transcription factor activator protein 1 (AP-1) is involved in cellular proliferation, differentiation, carcinogenesis, and apoptosis and is expressed broadly in both cancer and normal cells. There are several putative AP-1 sites in the hTERT promoter, but their functions are unknown. The present study examined the regulatory role of AP-1 in hTERT gene transcription. Overexpression of AP-1 leads to transcriptional suppression of hTERT in cancer cells. The combination of c-Fos and c-Jun or c-Fos and JunD strongly suppresses hTERT promoter activity in transient-expression analyses. The hTERT promoter region between -2000 and -378 is responsible for this function. Gel shift and supershift analyses, as well as ChIP, show binding of JunD and c-Jun on two putative AP-1 sites within this region. Mutations in the AP-1 binding sites rescued suppressions caused by AP-1, suggesting this is a direct regulation of the hTERT promoter. In contrast, there was no effect on inTERT expression or mTERT promoter activity by AP-1 overexpression in mouse fibroblasts. The species-specific function of AP-1 in TERT expression may in part help explain the difference in telomerase activity between normal human and mouse cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8037-8043
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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