Seminar in Biological Mechanisms of Aging and Cancer/Telomere Attrition

Telomeres are tails of repetitive sequences at the end of chromosomes that protect the ends of the chromosomes from degradation and they prevents neighboring chromosomes to fuse together. Telomere attrition describes how damage done to these telomeres, such as their shortening due to the inability to repair their tails and double stranded breaks, attribute to aging. Telomere shortening and double stranded break damage occur naturally in aging humans and the "Hallmark of Aging" paper describes this in more detail.

Much research has been done in this particular hallmark of telomere attrition to find out if the prevention of damage to telomeres can increase longevity. A good example of this is a paper we studied that was published in 2012 by Hewitt et al. titled "Telomeres are favored targets of a ersistent DNA damage response in aging and stress-induced senescence" [1]. In this paper the authors studied the effects of how double stranded damage done to the telomeres, which they refer to as telomere associated foci (TAFs), in humans and mice leads to cell senescence and aging. They observed that these TAFs are persistent and irreversible and the authors concluded that telomere are more suggestible to damage and that damage to the telomeres induce senescence and contribute to aging. Below is our attempt at a graphical abstract

  1. Hewitt, G., Jurk, D., Marques, F. D., Correlio-Melo, C., Hardy, T., Gackowska, A., . . . Passos, J. F. (2012). Telomeres are favored targets of a persistent DNA damage response in ageing and stress-induced senescence. Nature Communications. Retrieved February 9, 2017.