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April 4, 2005

Scientists identify novel regulator of telomere homeostasis

Topics: Medicine

Why should this work be of interest to clinicians and cancer patients alike? Because each of our 46 chromosomes is capped by a telomere, a long stretch of repeated DNA (TTAGG), and telomeres play a key protective function in our cells. The mechanisms by which a cell regulates activity at its telomeres (be it positive or negative), is an actively investigated area, with direct implications for understanding aging and cancer.

Telomeres are elongated by an enzyme called Telomerase (hTERT), which is usually only active in fetal, germ, and cancer cells, and is normally repressed in most somatic (body) cells. Owing to this fact, that it is required for the long-term proliferation of most cancer cells but not present in most somatic cells, it's inhibition offers important potential as a therapeutic target.

New research by Dr. In Kwon Chung and colleagues at Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea) and the University of Central Florida reveal a novel mechanism to modulate telomere length. Their work shows how cells keep telomerase activity in check, by identifying a novel protein that tags its key partner for degradation. Read more ...

Related readings:
Telomere dysfunction in aging and cancer.

Contrasting effects of telomere shortening on organ homeostasis, tumor suppression, and survival during chronic liver damage.

Radioresistance in carcinoma of the breast.

Chromosomal instability in oral cancer cells.

cross posted at NewHopeBlog

Posted by Hyscience at April 4, 2005 10:13 AM

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