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UGA researchers discover mechanism that explains how cancer enzyme winds up on ends of chromosomes
Date:7/10/2008

of the cell cycle when DNA replication or synthesis occurs.

"What we have found is that during the remainder of the cell cycle, telomerase RNA is found primarily in rather mysterious and, until recently, little-understood structures called Cajal bodies," said Rebecca Terns. "Though science has known about Cajal [pronounced Ca-HAHL] bodies for more than a hundred years, what we have discovered is that the localization of telomerase RNA to Cajal bodies and telomeres is specific to cancer cells where telomerase is active."

The new research shows for the first time that the trafficking of telomerase RNA to both telomeres and Cajal bodies depends on the presence of telomerase reverse transcriptase.

The Terns lab took advantage of the differences between normal and cancer cells of many kinds to better understand the trafficking of telomerase RNA.

"We examined a variety of factors that differ between normal and cancer cells in order to identify factors that impact human telomerase localization," said Michael Terns. "Our results indicate that human reverse transcriptase is a key determinant in human telomerase trafficking and is essential for the localization of telomerase RNA both to Cajal bodies and telomeres."

While all this jargon-filled science may sound difficult to understand, the discovery could lead to new ways to attack cancers by blocking their ability to grow. While that is years down the road, the new understanding of how this crucial biological action in the human body takes place will at the very least open new avenues of investigation into why and how cancer cells continue to grow and take the human toll they do every day.


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Contact: Kim Osborne
kosborne@uga.edu
706-583-0913
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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