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Gene. 2004 Sep 29;340(1):1-10.

Genetic and epigenetic modulation of telomerase activity in development and disease.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-1170, USA.


Telomerase activity is one of the most important factors that have been linked to multiple developmental processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation, aging and senescence. Dysregulation of telomerase has often been found in developmental abnormalities, such as cancer, loss of function in the hematopoietic system, and low success rate of somatic cloning. A comprehensive network of transcription factors has been shown to be involved in the genetic control of telomerase expression and activity. Epigenetic mechanisms have recently been shown to provide an additional level of regulation, and may be responsible for the diverse expression status of telomerase that is manifested in a tissue and cell-type-dependent manner. This article summarizes the recent developments in the field of telomerase research with a focus on the coregulation of the telomerase gene by both genetic and epigenetic pathways. Developmental consequences of aberrant telomerase activity will also be summarized and discussed.

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