Catalysis-dependent inactivation of human telomerase and its reactivation by intracellular telomerase-activating factors (iTAFs)

Mohammed E. Sayed, Ao Cheng, Gaya P. Yadav, Andrew T. Ludlow, Jerry W. Shay, Woodring E. Wright, Qiu Xing Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Human telomerase maintains genome stability by adding telomeric repeats to the ends of linear chromosomes. Although previous studies have revealed profound insights into telomerase functions, the low cellular abundance of functional telomerase and the difficulties in quantifying its activity leave its thermodynamic and kinetic properties only partially characterized. Employing a stable cell line overexpressing both the human telomerase RNA component and the N-terminally biotinylated human telomerase reverse transcriptase and using a newly developed method to count individual extension products, we demonstrate here that human telomerase holoenzymes contain fast- and slow-acting catalytic sites. Surprisingly, both active sites became inactive after two consecutive rounds of catalysis, named single-run catalysis. The fast active sites turned off 40-fold quicker than the slow ones and exhibited higher affinities to DNA substrates. In a dimeric enzyme, the two active sites work in tandem, with the faster site functioning before the slower one, and in the monomeric enzyme, the active sites also perform single-run catalysis. Interestingly, inactive enzymes could be reactivated by intracellular telomerase-activating factors (iTAFs) from multiple cell types. We conclude that the single-run catalysis and the iTAF-triggered reactivation serve as an unprecedented control circuit for dynamic regulation of telomerase. They endow native telomerase holoenzymes with the ability to match their total number of active sites to the number of telomeres they extend. We propose that the exquisite kinetic control of telomerase activity may play important roles in both cell division and cell aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11579-11596
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 26 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Catalysis-dependent inactivation of human telomerase and its reactivation by intracellular telomerase-activating factors (iTAFs)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this