Structural Features of Nucleoprotein CST/Shelterin Complex Involved in the Telomere Maintenance and Its Association with Disease Mutations

Cells. 2020 Feb 4;9(2):359. doi: 10.3390/cells9020359.


Telomere comprises the ends of eukaryotic linear chromosomes and is composed of G-rich (TTAGGG) tandem repeats which play an important role in maintaining genome stability, premature aging and onsets of many diseases. Majority of the telomere are replicated by conventional DNA replication, and only the last bit of the lagging strand is synthesized by telomerase (a reverse transcriptase). In addition to replication, telomere maintenance is principally carried out by two key complexes known as shelterin (TRF1, TRF2, TIN2, RAP1, POT1, and TPP1) and CST (CDC13/CTC1, STN1, and TEN1). Shelterin protects the telomere from DNA damage response (DDR) and regulates telomere length by telomerase; while, CST govern the extension of telomere by telomerase and C strand fill-in synthesis. We have investigated both structural and biochemical features of shelterin and CST complexes to get a clear understanding of their importance in the telomere maintenance. Further, we have analyzed ~115 clinically important mutations in both of the complexes. Association of such mutations with specific cellular fault unveils the importance of shelterin and CST complexes in the maintenance of genome stability. A possibility of targeting shelterin and CST by small molecule inhibitors is further investigated towards the therapeutic management of associated diseases. Overall, this review provides a possible direction to understand the mechanisms of telomere borne diseases, and their therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: CST complex; OB-fold proteins; Telomere replication; cancer; mutations; shelterin complex; small molecule inhibitors; structural genomics; telomere shortening.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Nucleoproteins / chemistry*
  • Shelterin Complex
  • Telomere Homeostasis*
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins / chemistry*


  • ACD protein, human
  • Nucleoproteins
  • Shelterin Complex
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins