One protein appears to play an integral role in protecting telomeres, and possibly preventing cancerous growth, according to a study published this week in Science.
Chromosomes with fluorescently tagged
telomeres in cells that lack Rap1
and Ku. The arrows point to examples of
telomere-sister chromatid exchanges.

Image: Titia de Lange laboratory
The protein in question is part of a complex called shelterin, which prevents a potentially dangerous type of DNA repair that can shorten telomeres and therefore cause cells to age quickly. Alternatively, the repair process can help elongate telomeres in cancer cells, allowing them to proliferate. This protein "is required in the complex to repress one of the two DNA repair pathways that can act on DNA ends," said cell biologist and study author linkurl:Titia de Lange; of The Rockefeller University. "It's important for cells to repress this [because it can be] dangerous for telomeres, lead[ing] to abrupt...

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