Telomerase activity has been examined extensively in a variety of human cancerous and noncancerous tissues. However, it was sometimes difficult to measure telomerase activity quantitatively with the methods used and in the tissues examined. We examined telomerase activity quantitatively in gastrointestinal tissues by using the hybridization protection assay combined with the telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) to assess the diagnostic utility of measuring telomerase activity and to determine the relationship between telomerase activity and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression. We report here that (i) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) inhibitors in the tissue extracts used for the telomerase assay were practically nullified by using tissue extract at 0.1 microg of protein/assay; (ii) RNase activity in tissue extracts should be blocked with 0.5 U of RNase inhibitor/microg tissue protein for the quantitative telomerase assay; (iii) no inhibitors of telomerase were found in tissue extracts other than RNase and PCR inhibitors (iv) higher telomerase activity in cancerous tissue than in noncancerous tissue from the same patients was observed in both gastric and colorectal tissues, but the telomerase activity varied from low to high levels in cancerous tissues, and it was not practical to set a general cut-off level for cancer diagnosis; (v) hTERT was expressed in both cancerous and noncancerous tissues, and (vi) the telomerase activity levels were generally lower than expected from the hTERT expression levels, suggesting posttranscriptional regulation of expression of telomerase activity.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.