a1 Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
a2 Department of Medical Laboratory and Radiation Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA
Telomeres are stretches of repeated DNA sequences located at the ends of chromosomes that are necessary to prevent loss of gene-coding DNA regions during replication. Telomerase – the enzyme responsible for immortalising cancer cells through the addition of telomeric repeats – is active in ~90% of human cancers. Telomerase activity is inhibited by various phytochemicals such as isoprenoids, genistein, curcumin, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, resveratrol and others. Human TERT (telomerase reverse transcriptase – the rate-limiting component of telomerase), heat shock protein 90, Akt, p70 S6 kinase (S6K) and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) form a physical and functional complex with one another. The inclusion of Akt, mTOR and S6K in the TERT complex is compelling evidence to support mTOR-mediated control of telomerase activity. This review will define the role of mTOR, the master regulator of protein translation, in telomerase regulation and provide additional insights into the numerous ways in which telomerase activity is hindered by phytochemicals.
(Online publication March 29 2012)