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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2007 Jul;14(7):581-90. Epub 2007 Jun 24.

The SMC5/6 complex maintains telomere length in ALT cancer cells through SUMOylation of telomere-binding proteins.

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Department of Pharmacology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 6001 Forest Park Road, Dallas, Texas 75390-9041, USA.


Most cancer cells activate telomerase to elongate telomeres and achieve unlimited replicative potential. Some cancer cells cannot activate telomerase and use telomere homologous recombination (HR) to elongate telomeres, a mechanism termed alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). A hallmark of ALT cells is the recruitment of telomeres to PML bodies (termed APBs). Here, we show that the SMC5/6 complex localizes to APBs in ALT cells and is required for targeting telomeres to APBs. The MMS21 SUMO ligase of the SMC5/6 complex SUMOylates multiple telomere-binding proteins, including TRF1 and TRF2. Inhibition of TRF1 or TRF2 SUMOylation prevents APB formation. Depletion of SMC5/6 subunits by RNA interference inhibits telomere HR, causing telomere shortening and senescence in ALT cells. Thus, the SMC5/6 complex facilitates telomere HR and elongation in ALT cells by promoting APB formation through SUMOylation of telomere-binding proteins.

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