Telomerase is an almost universal cancer target that consists minimally of a core protein human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and a RNA component human telomerase RNA (hTR). Some inhibitors of this enzyme are thought to function by the covalent binding to one or several cysteine residues; however, this inhibition mechanism has never been investigated because of the difficulty in producing telomerase. In this study, we use a recent method to produce recombinant hTERT to analyze the effect of cysteine-reactive inhibitors on telomerase. Using mass spectrometry and mutagenesis analysis, we identify several targeted residues in separated domains of the hTERT protein and show that cysteine-reactive reagents abolish the interaction with the CR4/5 region of hTR.
Keywords: cysteine; inhibitor; telomerase.
© 2017 Federation of European Biochemical Societies.