Telomeres in the Haemopoietic System

  1. Derek J. Chadwick Organizer and
  2. Gail Cardew Organizer
  1. Peter M. Lansdorp1,2,
  2. Steven Poon1,
  3. Elizabeth Chavez1,
  4. Visia Dragowska1,
  5. Mark Zijlmans1,
  6. Tracy Bryan3,
  7. Roger Reddel3,
  8. Michael Egholm4,
  9. Silvia Bacchetti1 and
  10. Uwe Martens1

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470515433.ch14

Ciba Foundation Symposium 211 - Telomeres and Telomerase

Ciba Foundation Symposium 211 - Telomeres and Telomerase

How to Cite

Lansdorp, P. M., Poon, S., Chavez, E., Dragowska, V., Zijlmans, M., Bryan, T., Reddel, R., Egholm, M., Bacchetti, S. and Martens, U. (2007) Telomeres in the Haemopoietic System, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 211 - Telomeres and Telomerase (eds D. J. Chadwick and G. Cardew), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470515433.ch14

Author Information

  1. 1

    Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, 601 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5Z 1L3

  2. 2

    Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 2B5

  3. 3

    Cancer Research Group, Children's Medical Research Institute, 214 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, Sydney, NSW 2145, Australia

  4. 4

    Perseptive Biosystems, Inc., 500 Old Connecticut Path, Framingham, MA 01701, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471972785

Online ISBN: 9780470515433



  • DNA ends repair;
  • quantitative fluorescence;
  • adult haemopoietic cells;
  • image analysis;
  • telomere shortening


The limited life span of most blood cells requires the continuous production of cells, which in adults exceeds 1012 cells/day. This impressive production of cells (∼ 4 × 1016 cells over a lifetime) is achieved by the proliferation and differentiation of committed progenitor cells, which themselves are derived from a population of pluri-potent stem cells with self-renewal potential. Paradoxically, the large majority of stem cells in adult bone marrow are quiescent cells. One possibility is that stem cells, like other somatic cells, have only a limited replicative potential (< 100 divisions). This hypothesis is supported by two key observations and the consideration that, in theory, 55 divisions can yield 4 × 1016 cells. First, it was shown that ‘candidate’ stem cells purified from fetal and adult tissue showed dramatic functional differences in turn-over time and the ability to produce cells with stem cell properties. Second, these functional differences were found to correlate with a measurable loss of telomere repeats despite the presence of low but readily detectable levels of telomerase in all purified cell fractions. In order to address questions about the role of telomeres in normal and malignant haemopoiesis, we developed a quantitative fluorescence in sity hybridization technique. Here we review the characteristics of this novel tool to assess the number of telomere repeats at the end of individual chromosomes and provide an overview of recent observations.