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Genes Dev. 2008 Jan 15;22(2):125-40. doi: 10.1101/gad.1626908.

DNA damage response at functional and dysfunctional telomeres.

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Dipartimento di Biotecnologie e Bioscienze, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy.


The ends of eukaryotic chromosomes have long been defined as structures that must avoid being detected as DNA breaks. They are protected from checkpoints, homologous recombination, end-to-end fusions, or other events that normally promote repair of intrachromosomal DNA breaks. This differentiation is thought to be the consequence of a unique organization of chromosomal ends into specialized nucleoprotein complexes called telomeres. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that proteins governing the DNA damage response are intimately involved in the regulation of telomeres, which undergo processing and structural changes that elicit a transient DNA damage response. This suggests that functional telomeres can be recognized as DNA breaks during a temporally limited window, indicating that the difference between a break and a telomere is less defined than previously assumed.

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