Telomere states and cell fates

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Abstract

Telomere length has frequently been used as a means to predict the future life of cells. But by itself it can be a poor indicator of ageing or cell viability. What, then, is the important property of a telomere? Here recent findings are integrated into a new, probabilistic view of the telomere to explain how and when it can signal not only its own fate but also that of a cell.

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Figure 1: Telomere switching.
Figure 2: Stochastic uncapping of telomeres and cellular senescence kinetics.

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Acknowledgements

I thank C. Gross, I. Herskowitz, B. Panning and C. Smith for discussions and comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Elizabeth H. Blackburn.

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