Atomic level look at the telomerase – connection with aging and cancer

atomic-level-look-at-the-telomerase-connection-with-aging-and-cancer

Arizona Sate University scientists, together with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, have published yesterday, in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, a first of its kind atomic level look at the enzyme telomerase that may unlock the secrets to the fountain of youth.

Telomeres and the enzyme telomerase have been in the medical news a lot recently due to their connection with aging and cancer. Telomeres are found at the ends of our chromosomes and are stretches of DNA which protect our genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets as to how we age – and also how we get cancer.

An analogy can be drawn between telomeres at the end of chromosomes and the plastic tips on shoelaces: the telomeres keep chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which would destroy or scramble our genetic information.

Each time one of our cells divides its telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide and it becomes inactive or dies. This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer and a higher risk of death. The initial telomere lengths may differ between individuals. Clearly, size matters!

Chen continues that, "Despite the strong medical applications, the mechanism for telomerase holoenzyme (the most important unit of the telomerase complex) assembly remains poorly understood. We are particularly excited about this research because it provides, for the first time, an atomic level description of the protein-RNA interaction in the vertebrate telomerase complex."

Source: Arizona State University

Reference:

  • "Structural basis for protein-RNA recognition in telomerase" – Jing Huang, Andrew F Brown, Jian Wu, Jing Xue, Christopher J Bley, Dustin P Rand, Lijie Wu, Rongguang Zhang, Julian J-L Chen  & Ming Lei – Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (2014) – doi:10.1038/nsmb.2819

Featured image: In silico Analysis of Human Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (hTERT ) Gene: Identification of a Distant Homolog of Melanoma Antigen Family Gene (MAGE) – Figure 3 by http://www.flickr.com/photos/75358728@N05/7558903642

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One Comment

  1. Imortalium™ is a breakthrough anti-aging supplement that contains essential nutrients and minerals that support telomere health. Telomeres are known as the biological clock within our cells that form the protective ends of almost every chromosome, keeping each chromosome from deterioration and are essential for chromosome stability. The long, thread-like DNA molecules that carry our genes are packed into chromosomes, the telomeres being the caps on their ends.

    Think of a telomere strand like the protective coating at the end of a shoelace. After so many uses, the end of the shoelace begins to fray, offering less protection to the shoelace, and thus the shoelace begins to dwindle. The same result happens with telomeres; as cells divide, the telomere also begins to “fray” offering less protection to the DNA chromosome. Each cell in our body is only programmed to replicate (divide) a certain number of times. With each replication, the telomere is shortened and subjected to destructive forces. Once the telomere has reached its threshold of divisions and damage, it begins to malfunction and the cell is terminated.
    Look it up "Imortalium" if you want to extend your telomere life

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