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Author Notes:

Correspondence to: Dr Rekha B. Pai, Department of Cell Biology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA, E-mail:rbpai77@yahoo.com

We thank Rohith B. Pai for help during the preparation of the manuscript.

No Disclosures listed.


Research Funding:

This study was partially supported by grants from NIH (NCI R01CA095317) and from the University Research Committee of the Emory University to H.C.J.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Oncology
  • telomere t-stumps
  • isogenic breast cancer cell lines
  • immortalized cell line
  • invasive/metastatic cell line
  • telomerase reverse transcriptase
  • cluster of t-stumps

Abundance of a distinct cluster of telomere t-stumps in advanced breast cancer cell line


Journal Title:

Oncology Letters


Volume 1, Number 2


, Pages 339-343

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Breast tumors are the second major cause of cancer-related death in women worldwide. These tumors are aggressive, leading to metastatic cancers that are heterogeneous in nature, with numerous subtypes. The basal-like tumor subtype invariably shows unfavorable prognosis and is often characterized by the lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. These cancer types do not respond to the current targeted therapies. Therefore, the need for the discovery of novel diagnostic markers/therapeutic targets is of paramount importance. Immortalization of breast tumor cells leading to advanced stage cancer is one of the pivotal steps in breast cancer and telomeres/telomerase play a critical role in this process. Using single telomere length analysis, cell lines with a basal-like phenotype encompassing immortalized/non-tumorigenic MCF10A and invasive/metastatic MCF10CA1 along with the MCF-7 cell line were examined for the presence of a unique class of telomere t-stumps. Telomerase activity, protein levels of telomerase and bulk telomere lengths were assessed in the above-mentioned cell lines. This is the first study describing the existence of a distinct class of extremely short telomeres termed 't-stumps' in breast cancer cell lines. The cell lines MCF10A and MCF10CA1 showed distinct telomeric bands in the molecular size range of 100-1,000 bp, whereas the MCF-7 cell line showed very low levels of t-stumps. Of note is that only the highly invasive/metastatic cancer cell line MCF10CA1 exhibited an abundance of a cluster of t-stumps with a size distribution range of 500-700 bp. These unique t-stumps observed in the advanced breast cancer cell line may serve as a novel diagnostic marker and also form a key molecular target for novel anticancer therapy.

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Copyright © 2010, Spandidos Publications

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