Development of a New Monochrome Multiplex qPCR Method for Relative Telomere Length Measurement in Cancer.
ABSTRACT: Excess telomere shortening has been observed in most cancer cells. The telomere quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay has become an important tool for epidemiological studies examining the effects of aging, stress, and other factors on the length of telomeres. Current telomere qPCR methods analyze the relative length of telomeres by amplifying telomere sequence products and normalizing with single-copy gene products. However, the current telomere qPCR does not always reflect absolute telomere length in cancer DNA. Because of genomic instability in cancer cells, we hypothesized that the use of single-copy genes (scg) is less accurate for normalizing data in cancer DNA and that new primer sets are required to better represent relative telomere length in cancer DNA. We first confirmed that cancer cells had a different copy ratio among different scg, implying that DNA is aneuploid. By using the new primer sets that amplify multiple-copy sequences (mcs) throughout the genome, the telomere qPCR results showed that the mcs primers were interchangeable with the scg primers as reference primers in normal DNA. By comparing results from the traditional southern blotting method (as kilobases) and results from monochrome multiplex qPCR using the mcs primers (as T/M ratios), we verified that the T/M ratio is highly correlated with absolute telomere length from the southern blot analysis. Together, the mcs primers were able to represent the telomere lengths accurately in cancer DNA samples. These results would allow for analyses of telomeres within cancerous DNA and the development of new, less invasive diagnostic tools for cancer.
Project description:<h4>Introduction</h4>Colorectal cancer (CRC) tumor DNA is characterized by chromosomal damage termed chromosomal instability (CIN) and excessively shortened telomeres. Up to 80% of CRC is microsatellite stable (MSS) and is historically considered to be chromosomally unstable (CIN+). However, tumor phenotyping depicts some MSS CRC with little or no genetic changes, thus being chromosomally stable (CIN-). MSS CIN- tumors have not been assessed for telomere attrition.<h4>Experimental design</h4>MSS rectal cancers from patients ?50 years old with Stage II (B2 or higher) or Stage III disease were assessed for CIN, telomere length and telomere maintenance mechanism (telomerase activation [TA]; alternative lengthening of telomeres [ALT]). Relative telomere length was measured by qPCR in somatic epithelial and cancer DNA. TA was measured with the TRAPeze assay, and tumors were evaluated for the presence of C-circles indicative of ALT. p53 mutation status was assessed in all available samples. DNA copy number changes were evaluated with Spectral Genomics aCGH.<h4>Results</h4>Tumors were classified as chromosomally stable (CIN-) and chromosomally instable (CIN+) by degree of DNA copy number changes. CIN- tumors (35%; n=6) had fewer copy number changes (<17% of their clones with DNA copy number changes) than CIN+ tumors (65%; n=13) which had high levels of copy number changes in 20% to 49% of clones. Telomere lengths were longer in CIN- compared to CIN+ tumors (p=0.0066) and in those in which telomerase was not activated (p=0.004). Tumors exhibiting activation of telomerase had shorter tumor telomeres (p=0.0040); and tended to be CIN+ (p=0.0949).<h4>Conclusions</h4>MSS rectal cancer appears to represent a heterogeneous group of tumors that may be categorized both on the basis of CIN status and telomere maintenance mechanism. MSS CIN- rectal cancers appear to have longer telomeres than those of MSS CIN+ rectal cancers and to utilize ALT rather than activation of telomerase.
Project description:Dysfunctional telomeres and DNA damage repair (DDR) play important roles in cancer progression. Studies have reported correlations between these factors and tumour aggressiveness and clinical outcome in breast cancer. We studied the characteristics of telomeres and expression of ERCC1, a protein involved in a number of DNA repair pathways and in telomere homeostasis, to assess their prognostic value, alone or in combination, in 90 residual breast tumours after treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NCT). ERCC1 status was investigated at different molecular levels (protein and gene expression and gene copy-number variations) by immunohistochemistry, qRT-PCR and quantitative multiplex fluorescent-PCR (QMF-PCR). A comprehensive analysis of telomere characteristics was performed using qPCR for telomere length and qRT-PCR for telomerase (hTERT), tankyrase 1 (TNKS) and shelterin complex (TRF1, TRF2, POT1, TPP1, RAP1 and TIN2) gene expression. Short telomeres, high hTERT and TNKS expression and low ERCC1 protein expression were independently associated with worse survival outcome. Interestingly, ERCC1 gains and losses correlated with worse disease-free (p?=?0.026) and overall (p?=?0.043) survival as compared to survival of patients with normal gene copy-numbers. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of all ERCC1 and telomere parameters identified four subgroups with distinct prognosis. In particular, a cluster combining low ERCC1, ERCC1 gene alterations, dysfunctional telomeres and high hTERT and a cluster with high TNKS and shelterin expression correlated with poor disease-free (HR= 5.41, p= 0.0044) and overall survival (HR= 6.01, p= 0.0023) irrespective of tumour stage and grade. This comprehensive study demonstrates that telomere dysfunction and DDR can contribute synergistically to tumour progression and chemoresistance. These parameters are predictors of clinical outcome in breast cancer patients treated with NCT and could be useful clinically as prognostic biomarkers to tailor adjuvant chemotherapy post-NCT.
Project description:In humans, telomere length studies have acquired great relevance because the length of telomeres has been related to natural processes like disease, aging and cancer. However, very little is known about the influence of telomere length on the biology of wild type plants. The length of plant telomeres has been usually studied by Terminal Restriction Fragment (TRF) analyses. This technique requires high amounts of tissue, including multiple cell types, which might be the reason why very little is known about the influence of telomere length on plant natural processes. In contrast, many of the human telomere length studies have focused on homogenous cell populations. Most of these studies have been performed by PCR, using telomeric degenerated primers, which allow the determination of telomere length from small amounts of human cells. Here, we have adapted the human PCR procedure to analyze the length of Arabidopsis thaliana telomeres. This PCR approach will facilitate the analysis of telomere length from low amounts of tissue. We have used it to determine that CG and non CG DNA methylation positively regulates Arabidopsis telomere length.
Project description:Telomeres represent the nucleotide repeat sequences at the ends of chromosomes and are essential for chromosome stability. They can shorten at each round of DNA replication mainly because of incomplete DNA synthesis of the lagging strand. Reduced relative telomere length is associated with aging and a range of disease states. Different methods such as terminal restriction fragment analysis, real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) and fluorescence in situ hybridization are available to measure telomere length; however, the qPCR-based method is commonly used for large population-based studies. There are multiple variations across qPCR-based methods, including the choice of the single-copy gene, primer sequences, reagents, and data analysis methods in the different reported studies so far. Here, we provide a detailed step-by-step protocol that we have optimized and successfully tested in the hands of other users. This protocol will help researchers interested in measuring relative telomere lengths in cells or across larger clinical cohort/study samples to determine associations of telomere length with health and disease.
Project description:A positive correlation between telomere length and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number has previously been observed in healthy individuals, and in patients with psychiatric disorders. In the present study, telomere length and mtDNA copy number were evaluated in gastric cancer (GC) tissue samples. DNA was extracted from 109 GC samples (including 82 intestinal, and 27 diffuse cases), and the telomere length and mtDNA copy number were analyzed using a quantitative-polymerase chain reaction assay. The relative telomere length and mtDNA copy number in tumor tissue, as compared with in normal tissue, (mean ± standard deviation) in all GC samples were 11.48±1.14 and 14.86±1.35, respectively. Telomere length and mtDNA copy number were not identified as exhibiting clinical or prognostic value for GC. However, positive correlations between telomere length and mitochondrial DNA copy number were identified in GC (r=0.408, P<0.001) and in the adjacent normal mucosa (r=0.363; P<0.001). When stratified by Lauren classification, the correlation was identified in intestinal type GC samples (r=0.461; P<0.001), but not in diffuse type GC samples (r=0.225; P=0.260). This result indicated that loss of the correlation of telomeres and mitochondrial function may induce the initiation or progression of GC pathogenesis.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease which may lead to dysplasia and adenocarcinoma in patients when long-lasting. Short telomeres have been reported in mucosal cells of UC patients. Telomeres are repetitive base sequences capping the ends of linear chromosomes, and protect them from erosion and subsequent wrongful recombination and end-to-end joining during cell division. Short telomeres are associated with the development of chromosomal instability and aneuploidy, the latter being risk factors for development of dysplasia and cancer. Specifically, the abrupt shortening of one or more telomeres to a critical length, rather than bulk shortening of telomeres, seems to be associated with chromosomal instability. METHODS: We investigated possible associations between dysplasia, aneuploidy and telomere status in a total of eight lesions from each of ten progressors and four nonprogressors suffering from longstanding UC. We have analyzed mean telomere length by qPCR, as well as the amount of ultra-short telomeres by the Universal STELA method. RESULTS: An increased amount of ultra-short telomeres, as well as general shortening of mean telomere length are significantly associated with dysplasia in longstanding UC. Furthermore, levels of ultra-short telomeres are also significantly increased in progressors (colons harbouring cancer/dysplasia and/or aneuploidy) compared to nonprogressors (without cancer/dysplasia/aneuploidy), whereas general shortening of telomeres did not show such associations. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that ultra-short telomeres may be more tightly linked to colorectal carcinogenesis through development of dysplasia in UC than general telomere shortening. Telomere status was not seen to associate with DNA aneuploidy.
Project description:Telomeres are DNA-protein structures at the ends of chromosomes essential in maintaining chromosomal stability. Observational studies have identified associations between telomeres and elevated cancer risk, including hematologic malignancies; but biologic mechanisms relating telomere length to cancer etiology remain unclear. Our study sought to better understand the relationship between telomere length and cancer risk by evaluating genetically-predicted telomere length (gTL) in relation to the presence of clonal somatic copy number alterations (SCNAs) in peripheral blood leukocytes. Genotyping array data were acquired from 431,507 participants in the UK Biobank and used to detect SCNAs from intensity information and infer telomere length using a polygenic risk score (PRS) of variants previously associated with leukocyte telomere length. In total, 15,236 (3.5%) of individuals had a detectable clonal SCNA on an autosomal chromosome. Overall, higher gTL value was positively associated with the presence of an autosomal SCNA (OR = 1.07, 95% CI = 1.05-1.09, P = 1.61×10-15). There was high consistency in effect estimates across strata of chromosomal event location (e.g., telomeric ends, interstitial or whole chromosome event; Phet = 0.37) and strata of copy number state (e.g., gain, loss, or neutral events; Phet = 0.05). Higher gTL value was associated with a greater cellular fraction of clones carrying autosomal SCNAs (? = 0.004, 95% CI = 0.002-0.007, P = 6.61×10-4). Our population-based examination of gTL and SCNAs suggests inherited components of telomere length do not preferentially impact autosomal SCNA event location or copy number status, but rather likely influence cellular replicative potential.
Project description:Aberrations in telomere length and telomere maintenance contribute to cancer development. In this article, we review the basic principles of telomere length in normal and tumor tissue and the presence of the two main telomere maintenance pathways as they pertain to gastrointestinal tract cancer. Peripheral blood telomeres are shorter in patients with many types of gastrointestinal tract cancers. Telomere length in tumor DNA also appears to shorten early in cancer development. Tumor telomere shortening is often accompanied by telomerase activation to protect genetically damaged DNA from normal cell senescence or apoptosis, allowing immortalized but damaged DNA to persist. Alternative lengthening of telomeres is another mechanism used by cancer to maintain telomere length in cancer cells. Telomerase and alternative lengthening of telomeres activators and inhibitors may become important chemopreventive or chemotherapeutic agents as our understanding of telomere biology, specific telomere-related phenotypes and its relationship to carcinogenesis increases.
Project description:Lynch syndrome (LS) is an inherited predisposition to early onset of various cancers, caused by mutation in a DNA mismatch repair (MMR) gene. In heterozygous MMR+/- carriers, somatic mutation, loss or silencing of the wild type allele increases the mutation rate, facilitating the initiation of MMR-defective cancers. These cancers are characterized by instability at short tandem repeats (STRs) and in telomeric DNA. We have investigated telomere length in saliva DNA from LS and control families, using single telomere analysis at XpYp and 12q and by qPCR to measure total telomeric DNA. Single telomere analysis showed a trend for shorter XpYp telomeres in MSH2+/- carriers compared to MLH1+/- carriers or controls, but this was masked in the comparative analysis of total telomeric DNA. Comparison of age-adjusted telomere length within families showed that neither MSH2+/- or MLH1+/- children had consistently shorter or longer telomeres than their MMR+/- parent, indicating the absence of an inter-generational effect on telomere length. Unexpectedly however, wildtype children in families with MSH2 mutations, had significantly longer XpYp telomeres than their MMR+/- parent. Altogether our data suggest that MMR insufficiency, particularly in MSH2+/- carriers, increases telomere instability and somatic cell turnover during the lifetime of LS mutation carriers but has minimal consequences for telomere length in the germline.
Project description:Both shorter and longer telomeres in peripheral blood leukocyte (PBL) DNA have been associated with cancer risk. However, associations remain inconsistent across studies of the same cancer type. This study compares DNA preparation methods to determine telomere length from patients with colorectal cancer.We examined PBL relative telomere length (RTL) measured by quantitative PCR (qPCR) in 1,033 patients with colorectal cancer and 2,952 healthy controls. DNA was extracted with phenol/chloroform, PureGene, or QIAamp.We observed differences in RTL depending on DNA extraction method (P < 0.001). Phenol/chloroform-extracted DNA had a mean RTL (T/S ratio) of 0.78 (range 0.01-6.54) compared with PureGene-extracted DNA (mean RTL of 0.75; range 0.00-12.33). DNA extracted by QIAamp yielded a mean RTL of 0.38 (range 0.02-3.69). We subsequently compared RTL measured by qPCR from an independent set of 20 colorectal cancer cases and 24 normal controls in PBL DNA extracted by each of the three extraction methods. The range of RTL measured by qPCR from QIAamp-extracted DNA (0.17-0.58) was less than from either PureGene or phenol/chloroform (ranges, 0.04-2.67 and 0.32-2.81, respectively).RTL measured by qPCR from QIAamp-extracted DNA was less than from either PureGene or phenol/chloroform (P < 0.001).Differences in DNA extraction method may contribute to the discrepancies between studies seeking to find an association between the risk of cancer or other diseases and RTL.