Specific association of human telomerase activity with immortal cells and cancer

Nam W. Kim, Mieczyslaw A. Piatyszek, Karen R. Prowse, Calvin B. Harley, Michael D. West, Peter L C Ho, Gina M. Coviello, Woodring E. Wright, Scott L. Weinrich, Jerry W. Shay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6542 Scopus citations


Synthesis of DNA at chromosome ends by telomerase may be necessary for indefinite proliferation of human cells. A highly sensitive assay for measuring telomerase activity was developed. In cultured cells representing 18 different human tissues, 98 of 100 immortal and none of 22 mortal populations were positive for telomerase. Similarly, 90 of 101 biopsies representing 12 human tumor types and none of 50 normal somatic tissues were positive. Normal ovaries and testes were positive, but benign tumors such as fibroids were negative. Thus, telomerase appears to be stringently repressed in normal human somatic tissues but reactivated in cancer, where immortal cells are likely required to maintain tumor growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2011-2015
Number of pages5
Issue number5193
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Specific association of human telomerase activity with immortal cells and cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this