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Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer. By Tara Lynn. What is a telomere?. A telomere is the end structure of a chromosome. Telomeres are essential regulators of both cell life span and chromosomal integrity. . [email protected], University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center .

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Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer

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Telomeres and telomerase in cancer l.jpg

Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer

By Tara Lynn


What is a telomere l.jpg

What is a telomere?

  • A telomere is the end structure of a chromosome.

  • Telomeres are essential regulators of both cell life span and chromosomal integrity.

[email protected], University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center


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Why do we need telomeres?

Telomerase Demo created by Dr. Donald F. Slish at SUNY, Plattsburgh


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What is the structure of a telomere?

  • All telomeres are composed of large arrays of short guanine-rich sequences, such as those found in mammalian cells, 5’-TTAGGGG-3’. (Hahn. Journal of Clinical Oncology, vol21, no10, pp2034-2043)


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Structure of Telomere

http://www.erin.utoronto.ca/~w3bio/JBC372/lecture06_2004/sld035.htm


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Telomeres in embryonic cells, germ cells, and cells that require extended regenerations are long.

All other cells have short telomeres.

With each cell division telomeres become shorter, until after dozens of divisions telomeres get lost and the cell eventually dies. (Bodnar et al. (1998) Science 279, 349-352).


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What is Telomerase?

  • In the germ line and in rapidly dividing somatic cells, telomerase, a reverse transcriptase that contains an RNA template, adds TTAGGG repeats to chromosome ends. Lodish et. al.

  • Telomerase is detectable in the majority of cancer cell lines and tumors.

[email protected], University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center


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Telomeres and Telomerase can both suppress and cause cancer.

Telomere Loss Telomerase Activation


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What happens to an organism with dysfunctional telomerase?

  • The results are mixed


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Option 1: defects and aging

  • Progressive defects in cells with high turnover (immune, hematopoietic, and reproductive organs) in knock out mice. Nature April 9, 1998

  • Dyskeratosis congenita in humans: premature organ failure, cancer predisposition (Hahn 2003)


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Option 2: Nothing happens for several generations

  • After five or six generations, telomere loss in mice leads to sterility. (Greider 1997)

  • mice that lack telomerase activity and show short telomeres are tumor resistant, except when the p53 tumor suppressor protein is absent. (Blasco 2001)


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