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Front Oncol. 2012 Nov 1;2:156. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2012.00156. eCollection 2012.

Telomere components as potential therapeutic targets for treating microbial pathogen infections.

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  • 1Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease, Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences, Cleveland State University Cleveland, OH, USA.


In a number of microbial pathogens that undergoes antigenic variation to evade the host's immune attack, genes encoding surface antigens are located at subtelomeric loci, and recent studies have revealed that telomere components play important roles in regulation of surface antigen expression in several of these pathogens, indicating that telomeres play critical roles in microbial pathogen virulence regulation. Importantly, although telomere protein components and their functions are largely conserved from protozoa to mammals, telomere protein homologs in microbial pathogens and humans have low sequence homology. Therefore, pathogen telomere components are potential drug targets for therapeutic approaches because first, most telomere proteins are essential for pathogens' survival, and second, disruption of pathogens' antigenic variation mechanism would facilitate host's immune system to clear the infection.


antigenic variation; infectious diseases; microbial pathogen; telomere; virulence

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