In situ hybridization analysis of the expression of human telomerase RNA in normal and pathologic conditions of the skin

Machiko Ogoshi, Thuy Le, Jerry W. Shay, R. Stan Taylor

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39 Scopus citations


Human telomerase RNA (hTER) expression in skin was examined by in situ hybridization analysis. All newborn foreskins examined (n = 5) expressed hTER in epidermal basal cells at moderate levels. Telomerase RNA was not detectable in most adult specimens from sun protected areas (six of seven), whereas all samples obtained from sun exposed areas (n = 8) showed moderate hTER signals in epidermal basal cells. Telomerase RNA was also detected at moderate to strong levels in basal cells of psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and the proliferative cells of the anagen hair bulb. Basal cell carcinoma samples (14 of 15) had moderate to high hTER expression throughout the entire tumor, whereas squamous cell carcinomas (seven of eight) showed variable intensities of hTER expression but only in the cells at the periphery of tumor nests. All melanomas examined (n = 5) had moderate hTER expression in all tumor cells. The hTER signal intensities in skin tumors did not correlate with the age or sex of the donors, the clinical history of the lesions, or the histologic subtypes. To address whether hTER expression correlated with the proliferative state, sequential sections were stained with anti-Ki-67 antibody, a proliferation marker. In newborn foreskins, squamous cell carcinomas, and basal cell carcinomas, the distributions of hTER and Ki-67 were similar but not always identical. Telomerase RNA was more abundant than Ki-67 in the basal and suprabasal layer of newborn foreskins, suggesting that hTER expression is present both in actively cycling and in resting cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)818-823
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998


  • Cell proliferation
  • Differentiation
  • Telomerase activity
  • UV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology


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