The role of telomere biology and telomerase activation in skin cancers has been investigated in melanoma and basal cell carcinoma but limited evidence is available for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). We will review the current knowledge on the role of telomere and telomerase pathway in cSCC pathogenesis. At the somatic level, both long and short telomere lengths have been described in cSCC. This telomere dichotomy is probably related to two different mechanisms of tumour initiation which determines two tumour subtypes. Telomere shortening is observed during the invasive progression from in situ forms of cSCC, such as Bowen’s disease (BD) and actinic keratosis (AK), to invasive cSCC. At the germline level, controversial results have been reported on the association between constitutive telomere length and risk of cSCC. Approximately 75–85% of cSCC tumours are characterized by a high level of telomerase activity. Telomerase activation has been also reported in AKs and BD and in sun-damaged skin, thus supporting the hypothesis that UV modulates telomerase activity in the skin. Activating TERT promoter mutations have been identified in 32–70% of cSCCs, with the majority showing the UV-signature. No significant correlation was observed between TERT promoter mutations and cSCC clinico-pathological features. However, TERT promoter mutations have been recently suggested to be independent predictors of an adverse outcome. The attention on telomere biology and telomerase activity in cSCC is increasing for the potential implications in the development of effective tools for prognostic assessment and of therapeutic strategies in patients with cutaneous cSCC.

Telomeres and telomerase in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

Ventura A.;Pellegrini C.
;
Cardelli L.;Rocco T.;Fargnoli M. C.
2019

Abstract

The role of telomere biology and telomerase activation in skin cancers has been investigated in melanoma and basal cell carcinoma but limited evidence is available for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC). We will review the current knowledge on the role of telomere and telomerase pathway in cSCC pathogenesis. At the somatic level, both long and short telomere lengths have been described in cSCC. This telomere dichotomy is probably related to two different mechanisms of tumour initiation which determines two tumour subtypes. Telomere shortening is observed during the invasive progression from in situ forms of cSCC, such as Bowen’s disease (BD) and actinic keratosis (AK), to invasive cSCC. At the germline level, controversial results have been reported on the association between constitutive telomere length and risk of cSCC. Approximately 75–85% of cSCC tumours are characterized by a high level of telomerase activity. Telomerase activation has been also reported in AKs and BD and in sun-damaged skin, thus supporting the hypothesis that UV modulates telomerase activity in the skin. Activating TERT promoter mutations have been identified in 32–70% of cSCCs, with the majority showing the UV-signature. No significant correlation was observed between TERT promoter mutations and cSCC clinico-pathological features. However, TERT promoter mutations have been recently suggested to be independent predictors of an adverse outcome. The attention on telomere biology and telomerase activity in cSCC is increasing for the potential implications in the development of effective tools for prognostic assessment and of therapeutic strategies in patients with cutaneous cSCC.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/141242
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