Molecular regulation of telomerase activity in aging

Protein Cell. 2011 Sep;2(9):726-38. doi: 10.1007/s13238-011-1093-3. Epub 2011 Oct 6.


The process of aging is mitigated by the maintenance and repair of chromosome ends (telomeres), resulting in extended lifespan. This review examines the molecular mechanisms underlying the actions and regulation of the enzyme telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), which functions as the primary mechanism of telomere maintenance and regulates cellular life expectancy. Underpinning increased cell proliferation, telomerase is also a key factor in facilitating cancer cell immortalization. The review focuses on aspects of hormonal regulations of telomerase, and the intracellular pathways that converge to regulate telomerase activity with an emphasis on molecular interactions at protein and gene levels. In addition, the basic structure and function of two key telomerase enzyme components-the catalytic subunit TERT and the template RNA (TERC) are discussed briefly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Methylation
  • Enzyme Activation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Folding
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor / genetics
  • Sp1 Transcription Factor / metabolism
  • Telomerase / genetics
  • Telomerase / metabolism*
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / metabolism


  • Sp1 Transcription Factor
  • telomerase RNA
  • RNA
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase
  • Tert protein, mouse