Telomerase activity in normal and malignant hematopoietic cells
Bone marrow and peripheral blood leukocytes from 19 leukemia patients were found to contain telomerase activity detectable by a PCR-based assay. Telomerase was also detectable in nonmalignant bone marrow and peripheral blood leukocytes from normal donors, including fractions enriched for granulocytes, T lymphocytes, and monocytes/B cells. Semiquantitative comparison revealed considerable overlap between telomerase activities in samples from normal subjects and leukemia patients, confounding evaluation of the role of telomerase in this disease. These data indicate that human telomerase is not restricted to immortal cells and suggest that the somatic expression of this enzyme may be more widespread than was previously inferred from the decline of human telomeres.