Telomeres are specialized structures found at the extreme ends of chromosomes, which have many functions, including preserving genomic stability, maintaining cell proliferative capacity, and blocking the activation of DNA-damage cell cycle checkpoints. Deregulation of telomere length has been implicated in cancer and ageing. Telomere maintenance is tightly regulated by telomerase and many other telomere-associated proteins and is also closely linked to cell cycle control, especially mitotic regulation. However, little is known about the identity and function of the signaling molecules connecting telomere maintenance and cell cycle control. Pin2/TRF1 was originally identified as a protein bound to telomeric DNA (TRF1) and as a protein involved in mitotic regulation (Pin2). Pin2/TRF1 negatively regulates telomere length and importantly, its function is tightly regulated during the cell cycle, acting as an important regulator of mitosis. Recent identification of many Pin2/TRF1 upstream regulators and downstream targets has provided important clues to understanding the dual roles of Pin2/TRF1 in telomere maintenance and cell cycle control. These results have led us to propose that Pin2/TRF1 functions as a key molecule in connecting telomere maintenance and cell cycle control. J. Cell. Biochem. 89: 19–37, 2003. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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