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Oncogene. 2002 Jan 21;21(4):503-11.

Telomeres, aging and cancer: in search of a happy ending.

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Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, California, CA 94720, USA.


Telomeres are distinctive structures, composed of a repetitive DNA sequence and associated proteins, that cap the ends of linear chromosomes. Telomeres are essential for maintaining the integrity and stability of eukaryotic genomes. In addition, under some circumstances, telomeres can influence cellular gene expression. In mammals, the length, structure, and function of telomeres have been proposed to contribute to cellular and organismal phenotypes associated with cancer and aging. Here, we discuss what is known about the basis for the links between telomeres, aging and cancer, and some of the known and proposed consequences of telomere dysfunction and maintenance for mammalian cells and organisms.

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