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ALTernative Telomere Maintenance and Cancer.

Authors: Robert L RL. Dilley, Roger A RA. Greenberg
Published: 12/08/2015, Trends in cancer


Activation of a telomere maintenance mechanism (TMM) is permissive for replicative immortality and a hallmark of human cancer. While most cancers rely on reactivation of telomerase, a significant fraction utilizes the recombination dependent alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway. ALT is enriched in tumors of mesenchymal origin, including those arising from bone, soft tissue, and the nervous system, and usually portends a poor prognosis. Recent insights into the mechanisms of ALT are uncovering novel avenues to exploit vulnerabilities and may facilitate clinical development of ALT detection assays and personalized treatment decisions based on TMM status. Treatments targeting ALT may hold promise for a broadly applicable therapeutic modality specific to mesenchymal lineage tumors, something that has thus far remained elusive.

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