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How long does telomerase extend telomeres? Regulation of telomerase release and telomere length homeostasis

Tomita, Kazunori
Current genetics 2018 v.64 no.6 pp. 1177-1181
DNA, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, eukaryotic cells, heterochromatin, homeostasis, humans, models, telomerase, telomeres
Telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes telomeres, is essential for most eukaryotes to maintain their generations. Telomere length homeostasis is achieved via a balance between telomere lengthening by telomerase, and erosion over successive cell divisions. Impaired telomerase regulation leads to shortened telomeres and can cause defects in tissue maintenance. Telomeric DNA is composed of a repetitive sequence, which recruits the protective protein complex, shelterin. Shelterin, together with chromatin remodelling proteins, shapes the heterochromatic structure at the telomere and protects chromosome ends. Shelterin also provides a foothold for telomerase to be recruited and facilitates telomere extension. Such mechanisms of telomere recruitment and activation are conserved from unicellular eukaryotes to humans, with the rate of telomere extension playing an important role in determining the length maintained. Telomerase can be processive, adding multiple telomeric repeats before dissociating. However, a question remains: how does telomerase determine the number of repeats to add? In this review, I will discuss about how telomerase can monitor telomere extension using fission yeast as a model. I propose a model whereby the accumulation of the Pot1 complex on the synthesised telomere single-strand counteracts retention of telomerase via chromatin proteins and the similar system may be conserved in mammals.