Genetic Requirement Of Telomerase-Negative Cancers

Shu-Chun TENG, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (ROC)

1 PhD Program in Translational Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
2 Department of Microbiology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University

Purpose - Telomere maintenance is required for chromosome stability, and telomeres are typically elongated by telomerase following DNA replication. In both tumor and yeast cells that lack telomerase, telomeres are maintained via an alternative recombination mechanism. Previous studies have indicated that yeast Sgs1 and Top3 may work together to remove highly negative supercoils that are generated from recombination. However, the mechanism by which cells eradicate highly positive supercoils during recombination remains unclear.
Methods - Using various telomeric assays, the ability of telomere recombination in topoisomerase deficient cells was evaluated in yeast and in human.
Results - In the present study, we demonstrate that Top2 is involved in telomere-telomere recombination. Disturbance of telomeric structure by RIF1 or RIF2 deletion alleviates the requirement for Top2 in telomere-telomere recombination. In human telomerase-negative ALT (alternative lengthening of telomere) cells, TOP2α or TOP2β knockdown decreases ALT-associated PML bodies, increases telomere dysfunction-induced foci and triggers telomere shortening. Similar results were observed when ALT cells were treated with ICRF-193, a TOP2 inhibitor. Importantly, ICRF-193 treatment blocks ALT-associated phenotypes in vitro, causes telomere shortening, and inhibits ALT cell proliferation in mice.
Conclusions - Taken together, these findings imply that TOP2 is involved in the ALT pathway, perhaps by resolving the highly positive supercoil structure at the front of the helicase. Inhibition of topoisomerase II may be a promising therapeutic approach that can be used to prevent cell proliferation in ALT-type cancer cells.
Funding source - Ministry of Science & Technology of Taiwan