- • Introduction
- • Targeting the telomere
- • Composition of the shelterin complex
- • Shelterin targeting
- • Conclusion
Aberrant telomere homeostasis is essential for cell immortality, enabling cells to evade telomere dependent senescence. Disruption of telomere structure and function in cancer cells is highly toxic as shown by detailed pre-clinical evaluation of telomerase inhibitors. Under telomerase inhibition, cells must divide sufficiently frequently to allow one or more telomeres to shorten to an unprotected length. Functioning telomeres are disguised from the DNA damage machinery by DNA remodelling and other activities of the telomere binding complex shelterin. Direct interference with shelterin has been shown to result in cell killing and small molecules directly targeting telomere DNA also have anti-tumour effects partially dependent on shelterin disruption. However, shelterin components have not generally been regarded as therapeutic targets in their own right. In this review, we explore the possibilities for therapeutic targeting of the shelterin complex.