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News Release 05-038

The First Key Piece of Telomerase

UCLA biochemists map a knot of RNA that's critical to the enzyme's functioning

A piece of the RNA domain in human telomerase

A piece of the RNA in human telomerase - the first to have its structure determined.

March 14, 2005

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Every time a cell divides, the tips of its chromosomes become shorter. That process is part of normal aging but is reversed in some groups of rapidly dividing cells by an enzyme known as telomerase. That ability also makes telomerase a key player in the spread of most cancers.

Now, in research that could lead to important new targets for drug intervention, biochemists at UCLA have determined the 3-dimensional structure of a critical piece of the enzyme.

For further information, see the UCLA news release.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and is the cover story in the March 4 issue of Molecular Cell.


Media Contacts
Stuart Wolpert, UCLA, (310) 206-0511, email:
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF, (703) 292-7752, email:

Program Contacts
Kamal Shukla, NSF, (703) 292-7131, email:

Principal Investigators
Juli Feigon, UCLA, (310) 206 6922, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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