Telomeres are specialized structures that evolved to protect the end of linear chromosomes from the action of the cell DNA damage machinery. They are composed of tandem arrays of repeated DNA sequences with a specific heterochromatic organization. The length of telomeric repeats is dynamically regulated and can be affected by changes in the telomere chromatin structure. When telomeres are not properly controlled, the resulting chromosomal alterations can induce genomic instability and ultimately the development of human diseases, such as cancer. Therefore, proper establishment, regulation, and maintenance of the telomere chromatin structure are required for cell homeostasis. Here, we review the current knowledge on telomeric chromatin dynamics during cell division and early development in mammals, and how its proper regulation safeguards genome stability.
Keywords: Chromatin; Development; Genome stability; Telomere.