Telomeres, the natural ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes, are essential for chromosome stability. Because of the nature of DNA replication, telomeres require a specialized mechanism to ensure their complete duplication. Telomeres are also capable of silencing the transcription of genes that are located near them. In order to identify genes in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae that are important for telomere function, a screen was conducted for genes that, when expressed in high amounts, would suppress telomeric silencing. This screen lead to the identification of the gene TLC1 (telomerase component 1). TLC1 encodes the template RNA of telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein required for telomere replication in a variety of organisms. The discovery of TLC1 confirms the existence of telomerase in S. cerevisiae and may facilitate both the analysis of this enzyme and an understanding of telomere structure and function.
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