Maintenance of Telomeres in Cancer

Part of the Current Cancer Research book series (CUCR)


Tumorigenesis is a complex process that involves several genetic alterations and many attempts before the “correct” set of mutations occurs to create a cancer cell of origin. Fortunately, this event is made infrequent by the evolution of mechanisms able to preserve genomic stability and to limit the proliferation potential of somatic cells. A crucial role in both of these processes is played by the nucleoproteins that localize to the tips of our chromosomes: the telomeres. Proper telomere function is required to maintain genomic stability and in somatic cells progressive telomere shortening serves as a cellular clock that limits proliferation potential. In this chapter I will review the mechanisms that allow the proper function of telomeres in normal cells as well as the mechanisms employed by cancer cells to bypass their normal regulation.


Telomere Length Telomere Dysfunction Telomere Elongation TERT Expression TTAGGG Repeat 



I thank Claire Attwooll, Agnel Sfeir, Keijo Okamoto, and Beatriz Virgen for comments on the manuscript and helpful discussions.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Chromosome Biology and Genomic Stability, Department of GeneticsThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA

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