Science China Life Sciences

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 564–570

Telomerase as a “stemness” enzyme

Open AccessReview Special Topic: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine

DOI: 10.1007/s11427-014-4666-6

Cite this article as:
Kong, F., Zheng, C. & Xu, D. Sci. China Life Sci. (2014) 57: 564. doi:10.1007/s11427-014-4666-6


Pluripotent or multipotent stem cells are involved in development and tissue homeostasis; they have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into various types of functional cells. To maintain these properties, stem cells must undergo sustained or unlimited proliferation that requires the stabilization of telomeres, which are essential for chromosome end protection. Telomerase, an RNA-dependent DNA polymerase, synthesizes telomeric DNA. Through the lengthening of telomeres the lifespans of cells are extended, or indefinite proliferation is conferred; this is intimately associated with stem cell phenotype. This review highlights our current understanding of telomerase as a “stemness” enzyme and discusses the underlying implications.


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© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Research Laboratorythe Second Hospital of Shandong UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.Department of Hematologythe Second Hospital of Shandong UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology and Centre for Molecular MedicineKarolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital SolnaStockholmSweden