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A self-regulating template in human telomerase

Description

Telomerase is a specialized reverse transcriptase (RT) containing an intrinsic telomerase RNA (TR) component. It synthesizes telomeric DNA repeats, (GGTTAG)n in humans, by reiteratively copying a precisely defined, short template

Telomerase is a specialized reverse transcriptase (RT) containing an intrinsic telomerase RNA (TR) component. It synthesizes telomeric DNA repeats, (GGTTAG)n in humans, by reiteratively copying a precisely defined, short template sequence from the integral TR. The specific mechanism of how the telomerase active site uses this short template region accurately and efficiently during processive DNA repeat synthesis has remained elusive. Here we report that the human TR template, in addition to specifying the DNA sequence, is embedded with a single-nucleotide signal to pause DNA synthesis. After the addition of a dT residue to the DNA primer, which is specified by the 49 rA residue in the template, telomerase extends the DNA primer with three additional nucleotides and then pauses DNA synthesis. This sequence-defined pause site coincides precisely with the helix paired region 1 (P1)-defined physical template boundary and precludes the incorporation of nontelomeric nucleotides from residues outside the template region. Furthermore, this sequence-defined pausing mechanism is a key determinant, in addition to the P1-defined template boundary, for generating the characteristic 6-nt ladder banding pattern of telomeric DNA products in vitro. In the absence of the pausing signal, telomerase stalls nucleotide addition at multiple sites along the template, generating DNA products with heterogeneous terminal repeat registers. Our findings demonstrate that this unique self-regulating mechanism of the human TR template is essential for high-fidelity synthesis of DNA repeats.

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Date Created
  • 2014-08-05

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Exploring the telomeric repeat addition processivity of vertebrate telomerase

Description

Telomerase is a special reverse transcriptase that extends the linear chromosome termini in eukaryotes. Telomerase is also a unique ribonucleoprotein complex which is composed of the protein component called Telomerase

Telomerase is a special reverse transcriptase that extends the linear chromosome termini in eukaryotes. Telomerase is also a unique ribonucleoprotein complex which is composed of the protein component called Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase (TERT) and a telomerase RNA component (TR). The enzyme from most vertebrate species is able to utilize a short template sequence within TR to synthesize a long stretch of telomeric DNA, an ability termed "repeat addition processivity". By using human telomerase reconstituted both in vitro (Rabbit Reticulocyte Lysate) and in vivo (293FT cells), I have demonstrated that a conserved motif in the reverse transcriptase domain of the telomerase protein is crucial for telomerase repeat addition processivity and rate. Furthermore, I have designed a "template-free" telomerase to show that RNA/DNA duplex binding is a critical step for telomere repeat synthesis. In an attempt to expand the understanding of vertebrate telomerase, I have studied RNA-protein interactions of telomerase from teleost fish. The teleost fish telomerase RNA (TR) is by far the smallest vertebrate TR identified, providing a valuable model for structural research.

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Date Created
  • 2010