Two mechanisms of telomere length maintenance are known to date. The first includes the use of a special enzymatic telomerase complex to solve the problems that arise during the replication of linear DNA in a normal diploid and part of tumor cells. Alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT), which is based on the homologous recombination of telomere DNA, represents the second mechanism. Until recently, ALT was assumed to be expressed only in 15–20% of tumors lacking active telomerase and,, together with telomerase reactivation represented one of two possibilities to overcome the replicative senescence observed in somatic mammalian cells due to aging or during cell culturing in vitro. Previously described sporadic cases of combinations of the two mechanisms of telomere length maintenance in several cell lines in vitro were attributed to the experimental design rather than to a real biological phenomenon, since active cellular division without active telomerase was considered to be the “gold standard” of ALT. The present review describes the morphological and functional reorganizations of mammalian telomeres observed with ALT activation, as well as recently observed and well-documented cases of combinations between ALT-like and telomerase-dependent mechanisms in mammalian cells. The possible role of telomere recombination in telomerase-dependent cells is discussed.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 2, 2016
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