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Protecting the terminus: t-loops and telomere end-binding proteins

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Telomeric DNA is composed of a region of duplex telomeric tract followed by a single-strand overhang on the 3′ G-rich strand. The DNA is packaged by proteins that associate directly with the single- and double-strand regions of the telomeric tract and by their associated proteins. This review discusses the evidence that G-strand overhangs are present on both ends of eukaryotic chromosomes and the steps needed to generate these overhangs. The overhangs are protected by specialized G-overhang-binding protein and/or invasion by the overhang of the duplex region of the telomeric tract to form a structure called a ‘t-loop’. The G-overhang-binding proteins identified from different species are described, and their properties compared. The data supporting the existence of t-loops at native telomeres is discussed, and the conditions required to promote their in vitro formation are presented.

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Correspondence to M. Price.

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Wei, C., Price, M. Protecting the terminus: t-loops and telomere end-binding proteins. CMLS, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 60, 2283–2294 (2003).

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