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Cell Cycle. 2009 Apr 1;8(7):990-5. Epub 2009 Apr 4.

Drosophila cell cycle under arrest: uncapped telomeres plead guilty.

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Dipartimento Biologia di Base ed Applicata, Università dell'Aquila, Loc. Coppito, Coppito, L'Aquila, Italia.


Telomeres are specialized structures that protect chromosome ends from degradation and fusion events. In most organisms, telomeres consist of short, repetitive G-rich sequences added to chromosome ends by a reverse transcriptase with an internal RNA template, called telomerase. Specific DNA-binding protein complexes associate with telomeric sequences preventing chromosome ends from being recognized as DNA double strand breaks (DSBs). Telomeres that lose their cap activate the DNA damage response (DDR) likewise DSBs and, if inappropriately repaired, generate telomeric fusions, which eventually lead to genome instability. In Drosophila there is not telomerase, and telomere length is maintained by transposition of three specialized retroelements. However, fly telomeres are protected by multi protein complexes like their yeast and vertebrate counterparts; these complexes bind chromosome ends in a sequence-independent fashion and are required to prevent checkpoint activation and end-to-end fusion. Uncapped Drosophila telomeres elicit a DDR just as dysfunctional human telomeres. Most interestingly, uncapped Drosophila telomeres also activate the spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) by recruiting the SAC kinase BubR1. BubR1 accumulations at chromosome ends trigger the SAC that inhibits the metaphase-to-anaphase transition. These findings, reviewed here, highlight an intriguing and unsuspected connection between telomeres and cell cycle regulation, providing a clue to understand human telomere function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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