The Journal of biological chemistry

Human flap endonuclease I is in complex with telomerase and is required for telomerase-mediated telomere maintenance.

PMID 19068479


Studies from budding yeast and ciliates have suggested that telomerase extension of telomeres requires the conventional DNA replication machinery, yet little is known about how DNA replication proteins regulate telomerase action in higher eukaryotic cells. Here we investigate the role of one of the DNA replication factors, flap endonuclease I (FEN1), in regulating telomerase activity in mammalian cells. FEN1 is a nuclease that plays an important role in DNA replication, repair, and recombination. We show that FEN1 is in complex with telomerase in vivo via telomeric DNA. We further demonstrate that FEN1 deficiency in mouse embryonic fibroblasts leads to an increase in telomere end-to-end fusions. In cancer cells, FEN1 deficiency induces gradual shortening of telomeres but does not alter the single-stranded G-overhangs. This is, to our knowledge, the first evidence that FEN1 and telomerase physically co-exist as a complex and that FEN1 can regulate telomerase activity at telomeres in mammalian cells.