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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2007 Sep;14(9):832-40. Epub 2007 Aug 12.

MRE11-RAD50-NBS1 and ATM function as co-mediators of TRF1 in telomere length control.

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Department of Biology, LSB438 McMaster University, 1280 Main St. West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S4K1.


Human telomeres are associated with ATM and the protein complex consisting of MRE11, RAD50 and NBS1 (MRN), which are central to maintaining genomic stability. Here we show that when targeted to telomeres, wild-type RAD50 downregulates telomeric association of TRF1, a negative regulator of telomere maintenance. TRF1 binding to telomeres is upregulated in cells deficient in NBS1 or under ATM inhibition. The TRF1 association with telomeres induced by ATM inhibition is abrogated in cells lacking MRE11 or NBS1, suggesting that MRN and ATM function in the same pathway controlling TRF1 binding to telomeres. The ability of TRF1 to interact with telomeric DNA in vitro is impaired by ATM-mediated phosphorylation. We propose that MRN is required for TRF1 phosphorylation by ATM and that such phosphorylation results in the release of TRF1 from telomeres, promoting telomerase access to the ends of telomeres.

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