Evidence for a telomere-independent 'clock' limiting RAS oncogene-driven proliferation of human thyroid epithelial cells

C. J. Jones, D. Kipling, M. Morris, P. Hepburn, J. Skinner, A. Bounacer, F. S. Wyllie, M. Ivan, J. Bartek, D. Wynford-Thomas, J. A. Bond

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70 Scopus citations

Abstract

An initiating role for RAS oncogene mutation in several epithelial cancers is supported by its high incidence in early-stage tumors and its ability to induce proliferation in the corresponding normal cells in vitro. Using retroviral transduction of thyroid epithelial cells as a model we ask here: (i) how mutant RAS can induce long-term proliferation in an epithelial cell in contrast to the premature senescence observed in fibroblasts; and (ii) what is the 'clock' which eventually triggers spontaneous growth arrest even in epithelial clones generated by mutant RAS. The early response to RAS activation in thyroid epithelial cells showed two features not seen in fibroblasts: (i) a marked decrease in expression of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor (CDKI) p27(kip1) and (ii) the absence of any induction of p21(waf1). When proliferation eventually ceased (after up to 20 population doublings) this occurred despite undiminished expression of mutant RAS and was tightly correlated with a return to the initial high level of p27(kip1) expression, together with the de novo appearance of p16(ink4a). Importantly, neither the CDKI changes nor the proliferative life span of RAS-induced epithelial clones was altered by induction of telomerase activity through forced expression of the catalytic subunit, hTERT, at levels sufficient to immortalize human fibroblasts. These data provide a basis for cell-type differences in sensitivity to RAS-induced proliferation which may explain the corresponding tumor-type specificity of RAS mutation. They also show for the first time in a primary human cell model that a telomere-independent mechanism can limit not only physiological but also oncogene-driven proliferation, pointing therefore to a tumour suppressor mechanism additional, or alternative, to the telomere clock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5690-5699
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Volume20
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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    Jones, C. J., Kipling, D., Morris, M., Hepburn, P., Skinner, J., Bounacer, A., Wyllie, F. S., Ivan, M., Bartek, J., Wynford-Thomas, D., & Bond, J. A. (2000). Evidence for a telomere-independent 'clock' limiting RAS oncogene-driven proliferation of human thyroid epithelial cells. Molecular and cellular biology, 20(15), 5690-5699. https://doi.org/10.1128/MCB.20.15.5690-5699.2000