The telomerase reverse transcriptase has an essential role in telomere maintenance which is very important in aging process and cancer biology. Recent studies have revealed three-dimensional architecture of both human and ciliate telomerase at about 25 Å resolution, using single particle electron microscopy (EM). Telomerase supplements the tandem array of simple-sequence repeats at chromosome ends to compensate for the DNA erosion inherent in genome replication which makes it to be distinct among polymerases. Telomeres are found at the end of eukaryotic linear chromosomes and proteins that bind to them and help to protect DNA from being recognized as double-strand breaks thus preventing end-to-end fusions. The activity of telomerase is tightly regulated at multiple levels of cellular development, from transcriptional regulation of the telomerase components to holoenzyme biogenesis and recruitment to the telomere site for activation and processing. Commonly used methods in telomere biology are telomere restriction fragment (TRF), telomere repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) and telomere dysfunction induced foci (TIF) analysis. This chapter summarizes our current knowledge on the mechanisms of telomerase recruitment and activation using insights from studies in mammals and budding and fission yeasts. Finally, we discuss the differences in telomere homeostasis between different cell types and non-telomerase telomere maintenance mechanisms.
Part of the book: Telomerase and non-Telomerase Mechanisms of Telomere Maintenance