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J Biol Chem. 2011 Feb 4;286(5):3894-906. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.180174. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

Telomerase inhibitor PinX1 provides a link between TRF1 and telomerase to prevent telomere elongation.

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Cancer Biology Program, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Telomere maintenance is essential for protecting chromosome ends. Aberrations in telomere length have been implicated in cancer and aging. Telomere elongation by human telomerase is inhibited in cis by the telomeric protein TRF1 and its associated proteins. However, the link between TRF1 and inhibition of telomerase elongation of telomeres remains elusive because TRF1 has no direct effect on telomerase activity. We have previously identified one Pin2/TRF1-interacting protein, PinX1, that has the unique property of directly binding and inhibiting telomerase catalytic activity (Zhou, X. Z., and Lu, K. P. (2001) Cell 107, 347-359). However, nothing is known about the role of the PinX1-TRF1 interaction in the regulation of telomere maintenance. By identifying functional domains and key amino acid residues in PinX1 and TRF1 responsible for the PinX1-TRF1 interaction, we show that the TRF homology domain of TRF1 interacts with a minimal 20-amino acid sequence of PinX1 via hydrophilic and hydrophobic interactions. Significantly, either disrupting this interaction by mutating the critical Leu-291 residue in PinX1 or knocking down endogenous TRF1 by RNAi abolishes the ability of PinX1 to localize to telomeres and to inhibit telomere elongation in cells even though neither has any effect on telomerase activity per se. Thus, the telomerase inhibitor PinX1 is recruited to telomeres by TRF1 and provides a critical link between TRF1 and telomerase inhibition to prevent telomere elongation and help maintain telomere homeostasis.

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