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Mech Ageing Dev. 2008 Jan-Feb;129(1-2):99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2007.11.006. Epub 2007 Dec 8.

Telomere uncapping and alternative lengthening of telomeres.

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Cancer Research Unit, Children's Medical Research Institute, 214 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia.


A substantial number of human tumors utilize a telomerase-independent telomere length maintenance mechanism referred to as alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT). Although it is known that ALT is a telomere-specific, loss of function phenotype, which involves lengthening of telomeres by homologous recombination-mediated replication of telomeric DNA, many of the details of these processes require elucidation. Here we discuss the current literature on ALT and telomere capping, specifically focusing on how alterations in telomere capping functions may permit activation of ALT and explain the phenotypic characteristics of cells in which this occurs.

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