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Cell. 2012 Mar 2;148(5):922-32. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.01.033. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Mutually exclusive binding of telomerase RNA and DNA by Ku alters telomerase recruitment model.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado Biofrontiers Institute, Boulder, CO 80309-0215, USA.


In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the Ku heterodimer contributes to telomere maintenance as a component of telomeric chromatin and as an accessory subunit of telomerase. How Ku binding to double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) and to telomerase RNA (TLC1) promotes Ku's telomeric functions is incompletely understood. We demonstrate that deletions designed to constrict the DNA-binding ring of Ku80 disrupt nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ), telomeric gene silencing, and telomere length maintenance, suggesting that these functions require Ku's DNA end-binding activity. Contrary to the current model, a mutant Ku with low affinity for dsDNA also loses affinity for TLC1 both in vitro and in vivo. Competition experiments reveal that wild-type Ku binds dsDNA and TLC1 mutually exclusively. Cells expressing the mutant Ku are deficient in nuclear accumulation of TLC1, as expected from the RNA-binding defect. These findings force reconsideration of the mechanisms by which Ku assists in recruiting telomerase to natural telomeres and broken chromosome ends. PAPERCLIP.

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