Formation of functional tissue from transplanted adrenocortical cells expressing telomerase reverse transcriptase

Michael Thomas, Lianqing Yang, Peter J. Hornsby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


We report the first use of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression in experimental xenotransplantation. Previously, we showed that bovine adrenocortical cells can be transplanted into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice, and that these cells form functional tissue that replaces the animals' own adrenal glands. We cotransfected primary bovine adrenocortical cells with plasmids encoding hTERT, SV40 T antigen, neo, and green fluorescent protein. These clones do not undergo loss of telomeric DNA and appear to be immortalized. Two clones were transplanted beneath the kidney capsule of SCID mice. Animals that received cell transplants survived indefinitely despite adrenalectomy. The mouse glucocorticoid, corticosterone, was replaced by the bovine glucocorticoid, cortisol, in the plasma of these animals. The tissue formed from the transplanted cells resembled that formed by transplantation of cells that were not genetically modified and was similar to normal bovine adrenal cortex. The proliferation rate in tissues formed from these clones was low and there were no indications of malignant transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-42
Number of pages4
JournalNature Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Adrenocortical cells
  • SCID
  • Telomerase reverse transcriptase
  • Xenotransplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering


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