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Scientists map elusive 3-D structure of telomerase enzyme, key actor in cancer, aging
Date:4/12/2013

identified telomerase and telomeres, leading to the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology. Research on Tetrahymena telomerase in the lab of co-senior author Kathleen Collins, a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, laid the genetic and biochemical groundwork for the structure to be solved.

"The success of this project was absolutely dependent on the collaboration among our research groups," said Feigon.

"At every step of this project, there were difficulties," she added. "We had so many technical hurdles to overcome, both in the electron microscopy and the biochemistry. Pretty much every problem we could have, we had, and yet at each stage these hurdles were overcome in an innovative way."

One of the biggest surprises, the researchers said, was the role of the protein p50, which acts as a hinge in Tetrahymena telomerase to allow dynamic movement within the complex; p50 was found to be an essential player in the enzyme's activity and in the recruitment of other proteins to join the complex.

"The beauty of this structure is that it opens up a whole new world of questions for us to answer," Feigon said. "The exact mechanism of how this complex interacts with the telomere is an active area of future research."

"The atmosphere and collaboration at UCLA really amazes me, and that is combined with some of the most advanced facilities around," Zhou said. "We have a highly advanced electron microscopy facility here at UCLA that even researchers without a strong background in electron microscopy can learn how to use and benefit from. This will be really useful as we move forward."


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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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