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Poppe, Sophia (2010): Establishment and investigation of tendon-derived cell lines immortalized by the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene.. Dissertation, LMU München: Medizinische Fakultät



Development of the musculosceletal system requires coordinated formation of distinct types of tissues, including bone, cartilage, muscle and tendon. Compared to muscle, cartilage and bone, molecular, cellular and developmental biology of tendon have not been well understood due to the lack of tendon cell lines. In addition tissue engineering of tendon is hampered by the rather difficult retrieval of tenocytes and their senescence-associated growth arrest during culture. Therefore the purpose of this study was to establish and characterize human tendon cell lines. Two tendon cell lines (HTD2 hTERT and HTD5 hTERT) were established using lentiviral gene transfer to ectopically express hTERT. The cell lines stably expressed hTERT on RNA and protein level. Untransduced cultured tenocytes show only a background level of telomerase activity, but it was significantly increased by hTERT transduction. Ectopic expression of hTERT led to an extended lifespan and prevented senescence while the cells kept their typical spindle-shaped morphology of young primary human tenocytes. Moreover, in comparison to untransduced tenocytes the cells possessed significantly lesser β-galactosidase activity indicating that they had not entered a senescent state. Throughout the entire culturing period the hTERT transduced tenocytes expressed tendon-related genes such as those encoding collagen I, collagen III, Tenascin C, EphA4, Eya1, scleraxis, Six and COMP. Using soft agar assay, no malignant transformation was shown by the hTERT expressing tenocytes. In conclusion, extending the lifespan of human tenocytes by ectopic expression of hTERT using lentiviral gene transfer may be an attractive and safe way to generate cells allowing extensive molecular characterization and development of novel tissue engineering applications.