SITE VISIT: End of the Story

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Science  16 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5388, pp. 375
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5388.375d

The DNA stretches capping the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes known as “telomeres” are hot stuff in molecular biology right now, as they may hold secrets to aging and cancer. Telomeres are repeating series of base pairs that get shorter as a cell divides. Repairing these frayed ends is a tantalizing protein called telomerase, dubbed “The Immortality Enzyme” by Time magazine last year.

One way to stay up to speed is to frequent the Telomere Club, a site run by Toru Nakamura, a grad student in Thomas Cech's lab at the University of Colorado.* The site offers tables of telomeric sequences for various organisms (in humans, it's TTAGGG) and links to sequences for cloned telomerase genes and related proteins that make up the telomere complex. The club connects to the Telomere Database at Washington University in St. Louis, which holds over 1800 literature citations.** TelDB, which also has a discussion forum, is an offshoot of a human genome site called Genlink that has lost funding; but TelDB “has a bright future,” says the project's Cindy Helms, who has plans to add more pictures, descriptions, and links to other databases. Useful links here include a glossary and human telomere atlas.

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