To fuse or not to fuse: how do checkpoint and DNA repair proteins maintain telomeres?

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2010 Jun 1;15:1105-18. doi: 10.2741/3664.


DNA damage checkpoint and DNA repair mechanisms play critical roles in the stable maintenance of genetic information. Various forms of DNA damage that arise inside cells due to common errors in normal cellular processes, such as DNA replication, or due to exposure to various DNA damaging agents, must be quickly detected and repaired by checkpoint signaling and repair factors. Telomeres, the natural ends of linear chromosomes, share many features with undesired "broken" DNA, and are recognized and processed by various DNA damage checkpoint and DNA repair proteins. However, their modes of action at telomeres must be altered from their actions at other DNA damage sites to avoid telomere fusions and permanent cell cycle arrest. Interestingly, accumulating evidence indicates that DNA damage checkpoint and DNA repair proteins are essential for telomere maintenance. In this article, we review our current knowledge on various mechanisms by which DNA damage checkpoint and DNA repair proteins are modulated at telomeres and how they might contribute to telomere maintenance in eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / metabolism*
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA Replication
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MRE11 Homologue Protein
  • Protein Binding
  • Telomerase / metabolism*
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MRE11 protein, human
  • Telomerase
  • MRE11 Homologue Protein
  • Rad50 protein, human
  • DNA Repair Enzymes