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Nat Struct Biol. 2000 Oct;7(10):847-50.

The end of the (DNA) line.

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Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0414, USA.


Telomerases contain an essential RNA subunit (TER), as well as an essential protein reverse transcriptase subunit (TERT). The RNA subunit includes a short template region that is copied into telomeric DNA, but otherwise it is large and divergent. However, phylogenetic studies have revealed a conserved core secondary structure for TER. Much of the divergence can be accounted for by the acquisition of different types of RNA domains that function in RNA stabilization. Some of the nontemplate portions of TER, which include regions in the conserved core, are important for aspects of telomerase enzymatic activity independent of their role in telomerase assembly. Mutational studies indicate that telomerase enzyme function results from a collaboration of both protein and RNA functional groups contributed by TERT and TER.

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