Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Similarities between long interspersed element-1 (LINE-1) reverse transcriptase and telomerase

It has long been known that tumor DNA is hypomethylated compared to DNA from normal tissue - one measure often used as a surrogate for global DNA methylation is that of LINE-1 retrotransposons, so-called "junk DNA" that makes up approximately 20% of the human genome -- there are about 500,000 of these elements in our genome - and 80-100 of these are capable of becoming activated -- an event that can cause major disruption to the nucleus -- the cell prevents this from occurring by heavily methylating these elements to suppress transcription -- but why do they become activated in cancer?  and as this paper suggests, is it possible that they can act to repair damaged telomeres?  And, if so, does that mean that we should be inhibiting LINE-1 rt as a cancer therapy?  How could we prevent LINE-1 activation in the first place...PNAS has a free on-line series of papers on retrotransposons and telomerase, just click here--



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