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Telomerase Catalytic Subunit Homologs from Fission Yeast and Human

Science  15 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5328, pp. 955-959
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5328.955

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Abstract

Catalytic protein subunits of telomerase from the ciliateEuplotes aediculatus and the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contain reverse transcriptase motifs. Here the homologous genes from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and human are identified. Disruption of the S. pombe gene resulted in telomere shortening and senescence, and expression of mRNA from the human gene correlated with telomerase activity in cell lines. Sequence comparisons placed the telomerase proteins in the reverse transcriptase family but revealed hallmarks that distinguish them from retroviral and retrotransposon relatives. Thus, the proposed telomerase catalytic subunits are phylogenetically conserved and represent a deep branch in the evolution of reverse transcriptases.

  • * Present address: Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research, 1066 Epalinges/VD, Switzerland.

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