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Telomerase RNA levels limit the telomere length equilibrium.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Small functional RNAs play essential roles in many biological processes. Regulating the level of these small RNAs can be as important as maintaining their function in cells. The telomerase RNA is maintained in cells at a steady-state level where small changes in concentration can have a profound impact on function. Cells that have half the level of the telomerase RNA cannot maintain telomeres through many cell divisions. People who are heterozygous for telomerase RNA mutations have the diseases dyskeratosis congenita and aplastic anemia, caused by short telomeres that result in loss of tissue renewal capacity. Mice heterozygous for telomerase RNA show haploinsufficiency in telomere length maintenance and also show loss of tissue renewal capacity. It is remarkable that small changes in the level of this functional RNA can have such profound effects in cells. This tight regulation highlights the importance of controlling the action of telomerase in cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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