What is Telomerase? What does it function?

Telomerase is an enzyme that replenishes the telomeres at the ends of each chromosome.

Telomeres shorten every time the cell divides, which would eventually cause the chromosome to lose vital genetic information and eventually lead to cell death. In order to maintain DNA integrity and protect genes, our cells produce telomerase when they are not busy with cell division.

Although our body naturally produces enough telomerase to maintain the telomeres, some researchers believe that a small portion of the population carry a genetic defect which prevents this maintenance, thus leading to aging and death.

Gerontologists hope that if telomerase can be isolated from animals with abundant telomerase and used to reinforce our own cellular structure.


  1. Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein found in most organisms, including humans. Its function is the elongation of telomeres, which are the ends of chromosomes. Without telomerase, chromosome ends are not replaced during each cell division, and as a result, cells lose the ability to replicate. Aging and death of the organism occurs by shortening of the Telomeres.


  2. It is specific type of DNA polymerase that safeguards the length of a chromosome\’s terminal segment. The cell goes through apoptosis if the telomere is sufficiently shortened (by repeated cycles of cell division). The holoenzyme consists of an RNA template and a polymerase, but only the latter has been studied, despite recent cloning of the gene responsible for the enzymatic activity.


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