Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Structure and function of telomeres

Abstract

The DNA of telomeres—the terminal DNA-protein complexes of chromosomes—differs notably from other DNA sequences in both structure and function. Recent work has highlighted its remarkable mode of synthesis by the ribonucleoprotein reverse transcriptase, telomerase1–4, as well as its ability to form unusual structures in vitro. Moreover, telomere synthesis by telomerase has been shown to be essential for telomere maintenance and long-term viability.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Blackburn, E. H. & Szostak, J. W. A. Rev. Biochem. 53, 163–194 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Zakian, V. A. A. Rev. Genet. 23, 579–604 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Blackburn, E. H. Science 249, 489–490 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Murray, A. W. & Szostak, J. W. Nature 305, 189–193 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Brown, W. R. A. et al. Cell 63, 119–132 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Klobutcher, L. A., Swanton, M. T., Donini, P. & Prescott, D. M. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 78, 3015–3019 (1981).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Henderson, E. R. & Blackburn, E. H. Molec. cell. Biol. 9, 345–348 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Greider, C. W. & Blackburn, E. H. Nature 337, 331–337 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Shippen-Lentz, D. & Blackburn, E. H. Science 247, 546–552 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Greider, C. W. & Blackburn, E. H. Cell 43, 405–413 (1985).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Greider, C. W. & Blackburn, E. H. Cell 51, 887–898 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Zahler, A. M. & Prescott, D. M. Nucleic Acids Res. 16, 6953–6972 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Shippen-Lentz, D. & Blackburn, E. H. Molec. cell. Biol. 9, 2761–2764 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Morin, G. B. Cell 59, 521–529 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Blackburn, E. H. et al. Genome 31, 553–560 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Yu, G.-L., Bradley, J. D., Attardi, L. D. & Blackburn, E. H. Nature 344, 126–132 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Lundblad, V. & Szostak, J. W. Cell 57, 633–643 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Lundblad, V. & Blackburn, E. H. Cell 60, 529–530 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Matsumoto, T. et al. Molec. cell. Biol. 7, 4424–4430 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Kamper, J., Meinhardt, F., Gunge, N. & Esser, K. Molec. cell. Biol. 9, 3931–3937 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Pologe, L. G. & Ravetch, J. N. Cell 55, 869–874 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Gilley, D., Preer, J. R., Aufterheide, K. J. & Polisky, B. Molec. cell. Biol. 8, 4765–4772 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Wilkie, A. M., Lamb, J., Harris, P. C. Finney, R. D. & Higgs, D. R. Nature 346, 868–871 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Dunn, B., Szauter, P., Pardue, M. L. & Szostak, J. W. Cell 39, 191–201 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Horowitz, H. & Haber, J. E. Molec. cell. Biol. 5, 2369–2380 (1985).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Haber, J. E. & Thorburn, P. C. Genetics 106, 207–226 (1984).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Jger, D. & Philipsen, P. EMB0 J. 8, 247–254 (1989).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Murray, A. W., Claus, T. & Szostak, J. W. Molec. cell. Biol. 8, 4642–4650 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Walmsley, R. W., Chan, C. S. M., Tye, B. K. & Petes, T. D. Nature 310, 157–160 (1984).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Pluta, A. F. & Zakian, V. A. Nature 337, 429–433 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Wang, S.-S. & Zakian, V. A. Nature 345, 456–458 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Gottschling, D. E. & Zakian, V. A. Cell 47, 195–205 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Price, C. R. Molec. cell. Biol. 10, 3421–3431 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Lustig, A. J., Kurtz, S. & Shore, D. 250, 549–552 (1990).

  35. 35

    Conrad, M. N., Wright, J. H., Wolf, A. J. & Zakian, V. A. Cell 63, 739–750 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Price, C. M. & Cech, T. R. Biochemistry 28, 769–774 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Hicke, B. J., Celander, D. W., MacDonald, G. R., Price, C. M. & Cech, T. R. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 1481–1485 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38

    Raghuraman, M. K., Dunn, C. J., Hicke, B. J. & Cech, T. R. Nucleic Acids Res. 17, 4235–4253 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Raghuraman, M. K. & Cech, T. R. Nucleic Acids Res. 18, 4543–4552 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Berman, J., Tachibana, C. Y. & Tye, B.-K. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83, 3713–3717 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Buchman, A. R., Lue, N. F. & Kornberg, R. D. Molec. cell. Biol. 8, 210–255 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Szostak, J. W. & Blackburn, E. H. Cell 29, 245–255 (1982).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Shampay, J., Szostak, J. W. & Blackburn, E. H. Nature 310, 154–157 (1984).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Riethman, H. C., Moyzis, R. K., Meyne, J., Burke, D. T. & Olson, M. V. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 86, 6240–6244 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45

    Gottschling, D. E., Aparicio, O. M., Billington, B. L. & Zakian, V. A. Cell 63, (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. 46

    Henderson, E. et al. Cancer Cells 6, 453–461 (eds Kelly, T. & Stillman, B.) (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, 1988).

    Google Scholar 

  47. 47

    Budarf, M. & Blackburn, E. H. Nucleic Acids Res. 15, 6273–6292 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48

    Frank-Kamenetskii, M. Nature 342, 737 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49

    Usdin, K. & Furano, A. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 85, 4416–4420 (1988).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50

    Henderson, E., Hardin, C. C., Wolk, S. K., Tinoco, I. & Blackburn, E. H. Cell 51, 899–908 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51

    Hardin, C. C., Henderson, E. R., Watson, T. & Prosser, J. Biochemistry (in the press).

  52. 52

    Henderson, E. R., Moore, M. & Malcolm, B. A. Biochemistry 29, 732–737 (1990).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53

    Sen, D. & Gilbert, W. Nature 344, 410–414 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54

    Sundquist, W. I. & Klug, A. Nature 342, 825–829 (1989).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55

    Williamson, J. R., Raghuraman, M. K. & Cech, T. R. Cell 59, 871–880 (1990).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56

    Sundquist, W. I. in Nucleic Acids and Molecular Biology (eds Lilley, D. M. J. & Eckstein, F.) Vol. 5 (Springer, in the press).

  57. 57

    Shampay, J. & Blackburn, E. H. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 85, 534–538 (1988).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58

    Bernards, A., Michels, P. A. M., Lincke, C. R. & Borst, P. Nature 303, 592–597 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. 59

    Walmsley, R. M. & Petes, T. D. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 82, 506–510 (1985).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. 60

    Lustig, A. J. & Petes, T. D. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83, 1398–1402 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  61. 61

    Larson, D. D., Spangler, E. A. & Blackburn, E. H. Cell 50, 477–483 (1987).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. 62

    Runge, K. W. & Zakian, V. A. Molec. cell. Biol. 9, 1488–1497 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  63. 63

    Levis, R. W. Cell 58, 791–801 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  64. 64

    Biessmann, H., Carter, S. B. & Mason, J. M. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 1758–1761 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  65. 65

    Moyzis, R. K. et al. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 85, 6622–6626 (1988).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. 66

    Cooke, H. J. & Smith, B. A. Cold Spring Harb. Symp. quant. Biol. 51, 213–219 (1986).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. 67

    Harley, C. B., Futcher, A. B. & Greider, C. W. Nature 345, 458–460 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. 68

    Hastie, N. D. et al. Nature 346, 866–868 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  69. 69

    Olovnikov, A. M. J. theor. Biol. 41, 181–190 (1973).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. 70

    Kipling, D. & Cooke, H. J. Nature 347, 400–402 (1990).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  71. 71

    Gottschling, D. E. & Cech, T. R. Cell 38, 501–510 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  72. 72

    Budarf, M. & Blackburn, E. H. J. biol. Chem. 261, (1986).

  73. 73

    Zahler, A. M. & Prescott, D. M. Nucleic Acid Res. 17, 6299–6317 (1989).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  74. 74

    Zahler, A. M., Williamson, J. R., Cech, T. R. & Prescott, D. M. Nature (in the press).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Blackburn, E. Structure and function of telomeres. Nature 350, 569–573 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1038/350569a0

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing