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Arch Med Res. 2003 Nov-Dec;34(6):489-95.

Telomeres, telomerase, and hematopoietic stem cell biology.

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Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Agency and Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Telomeres are composed of the tandem DNA repeats and associated proteins that cap the end of linear chromosomes. They provide stability to the chromosome and protect against DNA loss associated with cellular replication. Telomeres are maintained by the reverse transcriptase, telomerase. The regulation of telomere length and telomerase activity is a complex and dynamic process that is tightly linked to cell cycle regulation. Hematopoietic stem cells have an impressive but finite proliferative potential and demonstrate telomeric shortening during replicative aging despite expression of low levels of telomerase. Recently, the important role of telomeres in human illness has been highlighted by studies of the rare genetic disorder dyskeratosis congenita. Here we review the role of telomeres and telomerase in the function and regulation of the hematopoietic stem cell compartment and their importance in hematologic disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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