TERT promoter mutations and telomere length in adult malignant gliomas and recurrences

Oncotarget. 2015 Apr 30;6(12):10617-33. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.3329.


In this report on 303 gliomas we show the highest frequency of TERT promoter mutations in gliobastomas (80%) followed by oligodendrogliomas (70%) and astrocytomas (39%). We observed positive association between TERT promoter and IDH mutations in oligodendroglial tumors (OR = 26.3; 95% CI 2.5-250.2) and inverse association in primary glioblastomas (OR = 0.13; 95% CI 0.03-0.58). Tumors with TERT promoter mutations compared to those without showed increased TERT transcription; we also showed difference in the transcription levels due to the two main mutations. Tumors with TERT promoter mutations had shorter telomeres than those without. The patients with only TERT promoter mutations showed worst survival (median survival 14.6 months) and patients with both IDH and TERT promoter mutations showed best survival (246.5 months). In patients with astrocytoma, the TERT promoter mutations only associated with poor survival (P < 0.0001); IDH mutations and 1p/19q deletions associated with increased survival (P = 0.0004). TERT promoter mutations in low grade gliomas associated with reduced progression free survival (HR 10.2; 95% CI 1.9 - 55.9). While our data affirm the role of TERT promoter mutations in glial tumors, effects on transcription and telomere length emphasise the importance of telomere biology in disease genesis and outcome.

Keywords: IDH; TERT expression; TERT promoter; gliomas; telomere length.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Child
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Glioma / enzymology
  • Glioma / genetics*
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / enzymology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Telomerase / genetics*
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Young Adult


  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase