Carol W. Greider
Johns Hopkins University
Election Year: 2003
Primary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Secondary Section: 22, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type: Member
Telomeres and telomerase: basic mechanisms and clinical applications Dr. Greider's research is focused on the fundamental mechanisms of chromosome stability and segregation. Cancer cells are characterized by chromosomes instability and rearrangments. Telomerase, the enzyme necessary to maintain telomere length, is expressed in human tumor cells but not found in many normal human tissues and is required for long term growth of many tumor cells. Telomerase may be an excellent target for new anti-cancer therapies. Biochemical studies are underway in the lab to understand the detailed mechanism of this unusual DNA polymerase. To understand the role of telomeres and chromosome stability, the Greider lab has been studying a telomerase knockout mouse. When telomeres become too short, cells die. This induced cells death is exactly what one would hope from a telomerase inhibitor. Studies are now underway to understand the pathway that signals cell death when telomeres become short. To fully understand the pathways by which cells respond to short telomeres they are also characterizing the growth arrest and chromosomal changes that occur in yeast when telomeres become short. These basic studies of the consequences of telomere dysfunction provide a fundamental understanding of telomere biology necessary to evaluate how best to target telomerase cancer chemotherapy.