The telomerase ribonucleoprotein complex has a pivotal role in regulating the proliferation and senescence of normal somatic cells as well as cancer cells. This complex is comprised mainly of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), telomerase RNA component (TERC) and other associated proteins that function to elongate telomeres localized at the end of the chromosomes. While reactivation of telomerase is a major hallmark of most cancers, together with the synergistic activation of other oncogenic signals, deficiency in telomerase and telomeric proteins might lead to aging and senescence-associated disorders. Therefore, it is critically important to understand the canonical as well as non-canonical functions of telomerase through TERT to develop a therapeutic strategy against telomerase-related diseases. In this review, we shed light on the regulation and function of telomerase, and current therapeutic strategies against telomerase in cancer and age-related diseases.
Keywords: age-related diseases; cancer; hTERT promoter mutations; telomerase; telomerase RNA component (TERC); telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT); telomere.