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Nucleic Acids Res. 2002 Feb 15;30(4):839-65.

Natural and pharmacological regulation of telomerase.

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Laboratoire de Biophysique, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, INSERM U 201, CNRS UMR 8646, 43 rue Cuvier, F-75005 Paris, France.


The extremities of eukaryotic chromosomes are called telomeres. They have a structure unlike the bulk of the chromosome, which allows the cell DNA repair machinery to distinguish them from 'broken' DNA ends. But these specialised structures present a problem when it comes to replicating the DNA. Indeed, telomeric DNA progressively erodes with each round of cell division in cells that do not express telomerase, a specialised reverse transcriptase necessary to fully duplicate the telomeric DNA. Telomerase is expressed in tumour cells but not in most somatic cells and thus telomeres and telomerase may be proposed as attractive targets for the discovery of new anticancer agents.

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