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J Cell Sci. 2009 Nov 15;122(Pt 22):4013-25. doi: 10.1242/jcs.050567.

Telomeric armor: the layers of end protection.

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The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Molecular and Cellular Biology Department, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


The linear nature of eukaryotic chromosomes necessitates protection of their physical ends, the telomeres, because the DNA-repair machinery can misconstrue the ends as double-stranded DNA breaks. Thus, protection is crucial for avoiding an unwarranted DNA-damage response that could have catastrophic ramifications for the integrity and stability of the linear genome. In this Commentary, we attempt to define what is currently understood by the term ;telomere protection'. Delineating the defining boundaries of chromosome-end protection is important now more than ever, as it is becoming increasingly evident that, although unwanted DNA repair at telomeres must be avoided at all costs, the molecular players involved in recognition, signaling and repair of DNA damage might also serve to protect telomeres.

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