Telomerase Dynamics

Telomerase is a celluar reverse transcriptase (RT) that is responsible for maintaining telomeres in rapidly dividing cells, including the majority of human cancers. Unlike other RTs, telomerase uses an internal RNA template to processively add multiple DNA repeats onto the end of its single-stranded DNA substrate. The molecular mechanism of telomerase is distinct from other RTs and is challenging to study due to the lack of robust in vitro reconstitution systems and the absence of a high resolution crystal structure. Our lab uses single molecule FRET to dissect various features of the telomerase catalytic cycle, aiming to understand the dynamic interplay between protein, RNA, and DNA within this unique enzyme.