Mammalian telomere maintenance

November 14, 2000

Research into telomere maintenance is at the forefront of the biomedical investigation of aging and cancer. Telomeres, the specialized ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, are required for normal cell growth. Recently, a collaboration of scientists from around the country has discovered a key component in the mammalian telomere maintenance machinery. As reported in Genes & Development, Hsu and colleagues have found that the protein Ku mediates mammalian telomere capping.

Telomere capping conceals and disguises the ends of chromosomal DNA so to distinguish it from double stranded DNA breaks. Telomere capping thereby prevents the fusion of chromosome ends, an event associated with genetic instability and a hallmark in the development of cancer. The association of Ku with the mammalian telomere was, though, a surprising discovery.

Ku was originally discovered as a member of the DNA damage repair complex which repairs double stranded DNA breaks. One would expect that such proteins would be excluded from the telomeres, but that is not the case. Hsu and colleagues determined that Ku acts in a unique way at the mammalian telomere. Ku specifically binds a telomere binding protein, and is required to prevent telomere end fusion. Mouse cells that lack Ku develop numerous chromosome fusions.

Ku works at the mammalian telomere in a functionally distinct manner from its action at double stranded breaks. Understanding the surprising association of Ku with the mammalian telomere is a primary step in understanding the delicate balance of cellular growth control and the aberrations which lead to cancer.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to