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      Systematic analysis of telomere length and somatic alterations in 31 cancer types

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          Abstract

          Siyuan Zheng, Roel Verhaak and colleagues report an analysis of telomere lengths and somatic alterations in telomere-related pathways across 31 cancer types. Their study provides an overview of the molecular mechanisms driving TERT expression and activation of the ALT pathway, and identifies a subset of tumors with neither detectable TERT expression nor somatic alterations in ATRX or DAXX.

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          Most cited references31

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          Telomeres and human disease: ageing, cancer and beyond.

          Telomere length and telomerase activity are important factors in the pathobiology of human disease. Age-related diseases and premature ageing syndromes are characterized by short telomeres, which can compromise cell viability, whereas tumour cells can prevent telomere loss by aberrantly upregulating telomerase. Altered functioning of both telomerase and telomere-interacting proteins is present in some human premature ageing syndromes and in cancer, and recent findings indicate that alterations that affect telomeres at the level of chromatin structure might also have a role in human disease. These findings have inspired a number of potential therapeutic strategies that are based on telomerase and telomeres.
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            Phaeochromocytoma.

            Phaeochromocytomas are rare neuroendocrine tumours with a highly variable clinical presentation but most commonly presenting with episodes of headaches, sweating, palpitations, and hypertension. The serious and potentially lethal cardiovascular complications of these tumours are due to the potent effects of secreted catecholamines. Biochemical testing for phaeochromocytoma is indicated not only in symptomatic patients, but also in patients with adrenal incidentalomas or identified genetic predispositions (eg, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 1, and mutations of the succinate dehydrogenase genes). Imaging techniques such as CT or MRI and functional ligands such as (123)I-MIBG are used to localise biochemically proven tumours. After the use of appropriate preoperative treatment to block the effects of secreted catecholamines, laparoscopic tumour removal is the preferred procedure. If removal of phaeochromocytoma is timely, prognosis is excellent. However, prognosis is poor in patients with metastases, which especially occur in patients with large, extra-adrenal tumours.
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              How telomeres solve the end-protection problem.

              The ends of eukaryotic chromosomes have the potential to be mistaken for damaged or broken DNA and must therefore be protected from cellular DNA damage response pathways. Otherwise, cells might permanently arrest in the cell cycle, and attempts to "repair" the chromosome ends would have devastating consequences for genome integrity. This end-protection problem is solved by protein-DNA complexes called telomeres. Studies of mammalian cells have recently uncovered the mechanism by which telomeres disguise the chromosome ends. Comparison to unicellular eukaryotes reveals key differences in the DNA damage response systems that inadvertently threaten chromosome ends. Telomeres appear to be tailored to these variations, explaining their variable structure and composition.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Genetics
                Nat Genet
                Springer Nature
                1061-4036
                1546-1718
                January 30 2017
                January 30 2017
                :
                :
                Article
                10.1038/ng.3781
                5571729
                28135248
                c10c35c0-506a-459a-8ad6-54e8036427be
                © 2017
                Product
                Self URI (article page): http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/ng.3781

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