The Wilms' tumor 1 tumor suppressor gene represses transcription of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene

S Oh, Y Song, J Yim, T K Kim
Journal of Biological Chemistry 1999 December 24, 274 (52): 37473-8
Regulation of the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene is the primary determinant for telomerase enzyme activity, which is found in tumor cells but is largely absent from normal somatic cells. Recent studies have shown that Myc protein can transcriptionally activate the hTERT gene. However, little is known about the repression mechanism of the hTERT gene and telomerase enzyme. Here, we developed an expression cloning strategy to identify cDNAs whose products can repress hTERT promoter activity in telomerase-positive immortal cells. Using this screen, we isolated the Wilms' tumor 1 suppressor gene (WT1). WT1 can repress hTERT promoter activity in 293 kidney cells. The WT1 binding site on the hTERT promoter was identified by deletional analysis. Alteration of the WT1 binding site markedly derepresses transcription from an isolated hTERT promoter by inhibiting interaction of WT1 with DNA. These specific repression effects of WT1 were not observed in HeLa cells, which express no endogenous WT1. Furthermore, we show that WT1 can repress the endogenous hTERT promoter and telomerase enzyme activities. These results suggest that WT1 may be a transcriptional repressor of the hTERT gene, at least in some specific cells.

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