Scientists have created the first detailed image of the molecular structure of the human telomerase enzyme, a breakthrough that can lead to the development of new drugs for aging and cancer.
In the journal Nature, researchers describe the three: dimensional molecular structure (3D) of human telomerase.
"It took a long time to get in. It cost a lot of persistence," said Kathleen Collins, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States.
A bottleneck has been getting pure samples from this complex The molecule, which is composed of an RNA backbone decorated by six types of proteins that move while adding DNA to the ends of chromosomes, the researchers said.
Laboratories around the world have debated whether the enzyme operates alone or as bound twins, and how and how many proteins decorate the RNA backbone, they said.
Without consensus on these issues, it has been difficult to design a drug to attack the molecular machine and destroy the activity of telomerase, which could stop a cancer that has boosted its telomerase levels – or restart telomerase, perhaps to Prepare the body for rapid cell division after a bone marrow transplant.
The newly revealed structure still lacks fine details, but combined with knowledge of the sequence gene of human telomerase, it provides enough information to start thinking about possible targets for drugs, said Thi Hoang Duong Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley.
"The best previous images of human telomerase had a resolution of only 30 Angstroms, we were able to obtain a resolution of 7 to 8 Angstroms using cryoelectron microscopy," said Nguyen.
"When I got to the point where I could see all the subunits, we had 11 total protein subunits, it was a moment of" Wow, wow, that's how they fit together, "Nguyen said.
The telomeres were first detected at the molecular level in the late 1970s by Elizabeth Blackburn, then at UC Berkeley and now at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California.
Working with the prilled ciliated Tetrahymena, she and her colleagues demonstrated that the ends of the chromosomes are crowned by repetitive DNA sequences.
Armed with knowledge of the telomere sequence, the researchers demonstrated that telomeres in the tissues of multicellular cells are shortened each time a cell is divided
Telomeres protect the strands of DNA from fraying and damaging at their ends, much like the plastic tip at the end of a cord.
The fact that the division of elll protects us from cancer, when a cell is sequestered and proliferates continuously.
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