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Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) in Tumors and Pluripotent Stem Cells

by Shuang Zhao 1,2, Feng Wang 3 and Lin Liu 1,2,*
1
College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Medicinal Chemical Biology, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China
3
Department of Genetics, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin 300070, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Genes 2019, 10(12), 1030; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes10121030
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 28 November 2019 / Accepted: 2 December 2019 / Published: 10 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ALT: From Telomere Maintenance Mechanisms to Proposed Therapies)
A telomere consists of repeated DNA sequences (TTAGGG)n as part of a nucleoprotein structure at the end of the linear chromosome, and their progressive shortening induces DNA damage response (DDR) that triggers cellular senescence. The telomere can be maintained by telomerase activity (TA) in the majority of cancer cells (particularly cancer stem cells) and pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), which exhibit unlimited self-proliferation. However, some cells, such as telomerase-deficient cancer cells, can add telomeric repeats by an alternative lengthening of the telomeres (ALT) pathway, showing telomere length heterogeneity. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms of the ALT pathway and potential clinical implications. We also discuss the characteristics of telomeres in PSCs, thereby shedding light on the therapeutic significance of telomere length regulation in age-related diseases and regenerative medicine. View Full-Text
Keywords: alternative lengthening of telomeres; telomerase; DNA damage; pluripotent stem cells; telomere maintenance mechanism; genome stability alternative lengthening of telomeres; telomerase; DNA damage; pluripotent stem cells; telomere maintenance mechanism; genome stability
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Zhao, S.; Wang, F.; Liu, L. Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) in Tumors and Pluripotent Stem Cells. Genes 2019, 10, 1030.

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