This is the first report describing up-regulation of telomerase activity in human normal cells. Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein enzyme, has been thought to be involved in maintaining telomere length stability in germline and most cancer cells, but not in normal cells. However, in the present study, we demonstrate that telomerase activity is detectable at low levels in normal human T and B cells, increases by in vitro mitogenic stimulation, increases in hematopoietic progenitor cells upon their proliferation and differentiation, and decreases with aging. Understanding the regulation of telomerase activity in normal cells may provide important insights not only into the mechanisms of normal cellular senescence but also into the mechanisms of telomerase activity deregulation as part of cancer development.
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