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Definition of «Telomerase»

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Telomerase: An enzyme concerned with the formation, maintenance, and renovation of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes. Telomerase regulates the proliferative capacity of human cells. Telomerase activation plays a critical role in the progression of cancer as well as in normal somatic cells. Failure to activate sufficient telomerase promotes disease.

In biochemical terms, telomerase acts as a telomerase-reverse transcriptase (TERT). It transcribes RNA into DNA and is the reverse-transcribing enzyme specific to the telomeric sequence. Telomerase is itself a ribonucleoprotein (a complex of RNA and protein). It has two unique features: it is able to recognize a single-stranded (G-rich) telomere primer and it is able to add multiple telomeric repeats to its end by using an RNA template. A gene coding for telomerase is located in chromosome subband 5p15.33.

The ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase was discovered bt Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn.

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