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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24874

Title: Regulation of Telomerase by DNA and Protein Interactions
Authors: Sealey, David Charles Fitzgerald
Advisor: Harrington, Lea
Department: Medical Biophysics
Keywords: telomeres
DNA binding domain
reverse transcriptase
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2010
Abstract: In most eukaryotes, chromosomes ends are protected by telomeres which are formed by repetitive DNA, specialized binding proteins, and higher order structures. Telomeres become shorter following replication due to the positioning and degradation of terminal RNA primers, as well as resection by nucleases. Extensive telomere shortening over many cell cycles elicits a DNA damage checkpoint that culminates in senescence or, in the absence of tumor suppressor pathways, apoptosis. These effects block the expansion of cells with unstable genomes, but can also precipitate disease in tissues that rely on regeneration for function. In many unicellular eukaryotes and proliferative human cells including cancer cells, telomeres can be maintained by the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and its associated RNA (TR). The elongation of telomeric DNA by telomerase depends on the telomerase essential N-terminal (TEN) and C terminal reverse transcriptase (RT) domains. We found that human TEN interacted with single-stranded telomeric DNA and restored function, in trans, to an hTERT mutant lacking hTEN. Telomerase required hTEN residues for activity, telomere maintenance, and extension of cellular replicative lifespan. Two inactive hTERT variants bearing mutations in TEN and RT domains, respectively, cooperated to regenerate telomerase activity in vitro. hTEN interacted with several regions of hTERT suggesting that dimerization may occur via TEN-TERT interactions. The in vivo defect of certain hTEN mutants may involve an inability to interact with factors that recruit the enzyme to the telomere and/or stimulate activity. Human homologs of the S. cerevisiae recruitment factor Est1 interacted with telomerase in a species-specific manner. The TPR domain of hEST1A interacted with the N-terminus of hTERT. The TPR domain of ScEst1 was required for telomere length maintenance by telomerase, and, paradoxically, also negatively regulated telomere length. In preliminary experiments, hTERT interacted with hPOT1/hTPP1. This interaction may stimulate the elongation of telomeres by telomerase. The DNA and protein interactions described herein expand our knowledge of telomerase and present new targets for the manipulation of telomerase function in human disease.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24874
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Medical Biophysics - Doctoral theses

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