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Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet. 2008;9:1-19. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genom.8.021506.172017.

Human telomere structure and biology.

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The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Human telomeric DNA is complex and highly variable. Subterminal sequences are associated with cis-acting determinants of allele-specific (TTAGGG)n tract length regulation and may modulate susceptibility of (TTAGGG)n tracts to rapid deletion events. More extensive subtelomeric DNA tracts are filled with segmental duplications and segments that vary in copy number, leading to highly variable subtelomeric allele structures in the human population. RNA transcripts encoded in telomere regions include multicopy protein-encoding gene families and a variety of noncoding RNAs. One recently described family of (UUAGGG)n-containing subterminal RNAs appears to be critical for telomere integrity; these RNAs associate with telomeric chromatin and are regulated by RNA surveillance factors including human homologs of the yeast Est1p protein. An increasingly detailed and complete picture of telomeric DNA sequence organization and structural variation is essential for understanding and tracking allele-specific subterminal and subtelomeric features critical for human biology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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