Biology of Cancer

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Enabling replicative immortality

Hayflick limit - mammalian cell multiplication limited to about 60-70 doublings, at which point cells reach stage of senescence. Cancer cells divide indefinitely bc of overexpression of telomerase - enzyme that maintains telomere length, protects the ends of chromosomes and allows the cell to continue proliferating. Process aided in part by loss of tumor-suppressor genes, such as p53 Telomeres protect ends of chromosome - tandem repeats of short GT-rich sequences. Human telomeres - 300-8000 precise repeats of CCCTAA/TTAAGG Molecular cancer research uncovered additional functions of telomerase, may aid in tumor growth: - Enhancement of cell proliferation and/or resistance to apoptosis - DNA damage repair - RNA-dependent RNA polymerase function - Association with chromatin





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