Tag Archives: qi zhang

New 3-D Model of RNA ‘Core Domain’ of Enzyme Telomerase May Offer Clues to Cancer, Aging

A model representation of telomerase's RNA "core domain," determined by Juli Feigon, Qi Zhang and colleagues in Feigon's UCLA laboratory. Image credit: Juli Feigon, UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry/PNAS

Telomerase is an enzyme that maintains the DNA at the ends of our chromosomes, known as telomeres. In the absence of telomerase activity, every time our cells divide, our telomeres get shorter. This is part of the natural aging process, as most cells in the human body do not have much active telomerase. Eventually, these DNA-containing telomeres, which act as protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, become so short that the cells die.


But in some cells, such as cancer cells, telomerase, which is composed of RNA and proteins, is highly active and adds telomere DNA, preventing telomere shortening and extending the life of the cell. 

UCLA biochemists have now produced a three-dimensional structural model of the RNA “core domain” of the telomerase enzyme. Because telomerase plays a surprisingly important role in cancer and aging, understanding its structure could lead to new approaches for treating disease, the researchers say.  (more…)

Read More