Human Telomerase and Its Regulation

  • Cong Y
  • Wright W
  • Shay J
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Abstract

The telomere is a special functional complex at the end of linear eukaryotic chromosomes, consisting of tandem repeat DNA sequences and associated proteins. It is essential for maintaining the integrity and stability of linear eukaryotic genomes. Telomere length regulation and maintenance contribute to normal human cellular aging and human diseases. The synthesis of telomeres is mainly achieved by the cellular reverse transcriptase telomerase, an RNA-dependent DNA polymerase that adds telomeric DNA to telomeres. Expression of telomerase is usually required for cell immortalization and long-term tumor growth. In humans, telomerase activity is tightly regulated during development and oncogenesis. The modulation of telomerase activity may therefore have important implications in antiaging and anticancer therapy. This review describes the currently known components of the telomerase complex and attempts to provide an update on the molecular mechanisms of human telomerase regulation.

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Authors

  • Y.-S. Cong

  • W. E. Wright

  • J. W. Shay

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