Telomeres, the physical ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes, protect chromosome ends from end fusions and degradation. Telomere length is tightly regulated to ensure that telomeres are neither too short nor too long. Short telomeres are preferentially elongated by the enzyme telomerase. In the absence of telomerase, telomeres progressively shorten with each round of cell division. Critically shortened telomeres lose their ability to protect chromosome ends, inducing cell cycle arrest and senescence. While the consequences and cellular response to short telomeres are frequently explored, long telomeres also pose problems and cells have evolved mechanisms to shorten over-elongated telomeres. These aspects of long telomeres are discussed in this short conceptual overview.
©2012 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston
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