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Curr Biol. 2008 Apr 8;18(7):496-500. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2008.02.071.

Flap endonuclease 1 contributes to telomere stability.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Telomere stability plays an important role in the preservation of genomic stability and is maintained through the coordinated actions of telomere-specific proteins and DNA repair and replication proteins [1, 2]. Flap endonuclease 1 (FEN1) is a protein that plays a role in lagging-strand DNA replication, base excision repair, homologous recombination, and reinitiation of stalled replication forks [3, 4]. Here, we demonstrate that FEN1 depletion leads to telomere dysfunction characterized by the presence of gammaH2AX and sister telomere loss. Expression of catalytically active telomerase, the reverse transcriptase that adds telomeric repeats to chromosome ends, was sufficient to rescue telomere dysfunction upon FEN1 depletion. Strikingly, FEN1 depletion exclusively abrogates telomeres replicated by lagging-strand DNA replication. Genetic rescue experiments utilizing FEN1 mutant proteins that retained the ability to localize to telomeric repeats revealed that FEN1's nuclease activity and ability to interact with the Werner protein (WRN) and telomere-binding protein (TRF2) were required for FEN1 activity at the telomere. Given FEN1's role in lagging-strand DNA replication and reinitiation of stalled replication forks, we propose that FEN1 contributes to telomere stability by ensuring efficient telomere replication.

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