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Nat Rev Genet. 2007 Apr;8(4):299-309.

The epigenetic regulation of mammalian telomeres.

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Telomeres and Telomerase Group, Molecular Oncology Programme, Spanish National Cancer Centre (CNIO), 3 Melchor Fernández Almagro, Madrid E-28029, Spain.


Increasing evidence indicates that chromatin modifications are important regulators of mammalian telomeres. Telomeres provide well studied paradigms of heterochromatin formation in yeast and flies, and recent studies have shown that mammalian telomeres and subtelomeric regions are also enriched in epigenetic marks that are characteristic of heterochromatin. Furthermore, the abrogation of master epigenetic regulators, such as histone methyltransferases and DNA methyltransferases, correlates with loss of telomere-length control, and telomere shortening to a critical length affects the epigenetic status of telomeres and subtelomeres. These links between epigenetic status and telomere-length regulation provide important new avenues for understanding processes such as cancer development and ageing, which are characterized by telomere-length defects.

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