The “Hayflick limit” is a “mitotic clock” and primary cells have a finite lifespan that correlates with telomere length. However, introduction of the telomerase catalytic protein component (TERT) is insufficient to immortalize most, but not all, human cell types under typical cell culture conditions. Originally, telomerase activity was only detected in cancer cells but is now recognized as being detectable in transit amplifying cells in tissues undergoing regeneration or in extreme conditions of wound repair. Here we report that in vitro low stress culture conditions allow normal human lung basal epithelial cells to grow for over 200 population doublings without engaging any telomere maintenance mechanism. This suggests that most reported instances of telomere-based replicative senescence are due to cell culture stress-induced premature senescence. One Sentence Summary Human lung cells growing in reduced stress conditions can divide well beyond the Hayflick limit.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)