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Telomeres consist of repetitive DNA and associated proteins that protect chromosome ends from illicit DNA repair. It is well known that telomeric DNA is progressively eroded during cell division, until telomeres become too short and the cell stops dividing. There is a second mode of telomere shortening, however, which is a regulated form of telomere rapid deletion (TRD) termed telomere trimming that is reviewed here. Telomere trimming appears to involve resolution of recombination intermediate structures, which shortens the telomere by release of extrachromosomal telomeric DNA. This has been detected in human and in mouse cells and occurs both in somatic and germline cells, where it sets an upper limit on telomere length and contributes to a length equilibrium set-point in cells that have a telomere elongation mechanism. Telomere trimming thus represents an additional mechanism of telomere length control that contributes to normal telomere dynamics and cell proliferative potential.


Hilda A Pickett, Roger R Reddel. The role of telomere trimming in normal telomere length dynamics. Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.). 2012 Apr 1;11(7):1309-15

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PMID: 22421147

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