Abnormal telomere dynamics of B-lymphoblastoid cell strains from Werner's syndrome patients transformed by Epstein-Barr virus

Oncogene. 1997 Oct 16;15(16):1911-20. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1201377.


The characteristics of B-lymphoblastoid cell strains transformed by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) from normal individuals and Werner's syndrome (WRN) patients were compared. We continuously passaged cell strains from 28 WRN patients and 20 normal individuals for about 2 years corresponding to over 160 population doubling levels (PDLs). First, the WRN mutation significantly suppressed the immortalization: all the 28 cell strains from WRN patients, as well as 15 out of 20 cell strains from normal individuals, died out before 160 PDLs mostly without developing a significant telomerase activity. The remaining five cell strains from normal individuals became moderately/strongly telomerase-positive and, three of them were apparently immortalized with an infinitively proliferating activity. Second, the monitoring of the telomere length of both normal and WRN cell strains during the culture period suggests that the WRN gene mutation causes abnormal dynamics of the telomere: (1) a significant proportion of WRN cell strains showed drastic shortening or lengthening of telomere lengths during cell passages compared with normal cell strains, and (2) WRN cell strains terminated their life-span at a wide range of telomere length (between 3.5 and 18.5 Kbp), whereas normal cell strains terminated within a narrow telomere length range (between 5.5 and 9 Kbp). The chromosomal aberration characteristic of WRN cells, including translocation was confirmed in our experiment. We discussed the correlation between the chromosomal instability, abnormal telomere dynamics and inability of immortalization of the WRN B-lymphobloastoid cell strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / enzymology
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Telomerase / metabolism
  • Telomere*
  • Werner Syndrome / enzymology
  • Werner Syndrome / genetics*
  • Werner Syndrome / pathology


  • Telomerase