Genetics: Telomeres and Telomerase
Chromosomes need functional caps at their ends. These caps are called telomeres. Telomerase is the enzyme synthesizing the specific DNA sequences found at the telomeres and is thus responsible for maintaining their lengths. Telomerase activity can be found in most tumor cells, implicating that an active telomerase seems to be a prerequisite for tumor growth. We are aiming to clarify the structure and function of telomeres. We hope to contribute fundamental knowledge about telomere maintenance and the evolution of this mechanism. This will help to elucidate the role of telomerase activity in tumorigenesis as well as the role of telomere shortening in aging.
Using yeast as a model system, we study the molecular mechanisms of telomere length regulation. Our research also focuses on the synthesis mechanisms of telomerase, and aims for the identification and functional analysis of the genes that regulate telomerase.
These dividing Saccharomyces castellii yeast cells have been stained with propidium iodide to detect the genomic DNA as red fluorescent signals. The cell division starts with a small bud on the mother cell, which is growing and finally forming the daughter cell containing a copy of the genome.