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Atomic structure of human telomerase developed using cryo-electron microscopy


Key points from article :

Telomeres are large nucleoprotein structures that cap the ends of chromosomes in eukaryotic cells.

Over time telomeres reach a critically short length and the cell will face genomic instability, deterioration or death.

Telomerase rebuilds the telomeres by synthesizing new telomeric DNA repeats.

Kelly Nguyen's group were able to build the first atomic model of telomerase, with 12 protein subunits and telomerase RNA.

Prepared telomerase by extracting from cultured human cells, before imaging using cryo-EM.

Data was analyzed using RELION, a computer program, to achieve the 3.4-3.8 Å structure of telomerase.

Able to illuminate how RNA and protein motifs work and to highlight new interactions.

Confirmed the presence of a histone dimer—proteins which bind DNA into nucleosomes to package our DNA.

Suggests a previously unknown role for histones in telomerase RNA folding and function.

Provides framework from which telomerase-based therapies could be developed.

Research by LMB published in the Nature journal.

High resolution telomerase model revealed new protein subunits; promises new therapy for aging diseases

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Group Leader at the MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology


Research institute in Cambridge involved in the revolution in molecular biology.


Scientific journal covering research from a variety of academic disciplines, mostly in science and technology