Their findings are reported online in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.
Telomeres are the natural ends of chromosomes, consisting of specialized DNA-and-protein structures that protect chromosome ends and ensure faithful duplication of chromosomes in actively dividing cells. An essential player in telomere maintenance is an enzyme complex called telomerase. Without telomerase, telomeres become progressively shorter each time the cell divides.
If telomeres become too short, chromosome ends will be recognized as broken, prompting DNA-damage checkpoint proteins to halt cell division and DNA repair proteins to fuse or rearrange the chromosome ends. Telomere dysfunction has been linked to tumor formation and premature aging in humans.
The UIC study, led by Toru Nakamura, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, focused on understanding how two DNA-damage checkpoint enzymes called ATM and ATR contribute to the regulation of telomerase.
"Our current study found that ATM and ATR help to switch on the telomere complex by chemically modifying a specific target protein bound to telomeric DNA, which then attracts telomerase, much like honey bees are attracted if flowers open and show bright colors," Nakamura said.
The study was done in fission yeast cells, a model organism that utilizes very similar protein complexes as human cells do to maintain telomeres. Previous discoveries in fission yeast have provided key information that helped identify several key factors required in maintenance of human telomeres.
Nakamura thinks that a similar ATM/ATR-dependent molecular switch may exist in human cells to regulate telomere maintenance. However, certain details of the protective complex regulation may be different, he noted.
Because deregulation of telomere maintenance mechanisms is a key event in tumor formation, understanding how cellular components collaborate to generate functional telomeres may be important to finding ways to prevent cancer, Nakamura said.
The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Federal Work Study Program. Bettina Moser, UIC research assistant professor in biochemistry and molecular genetics, was first author of the study. Graduate student Ya-Ting Chang and undergraduate student Jorgena Kosti also contributed to the study.
For more information about UIC, visit www.uic.edu
Jeanne Galatzer-Levy | EurekAlert!
New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences
24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News