Most mammalian cells-excepting germ cells, tumor cells, and stem cells, that is-possess a finite replicative life span, manifested by the eventual cessation of cell proliferation. Clinically, this is germane not just to the overt derangements of cell growth in cancer, but also to organs such as the heart, in which the capacity for cell replacement and repair is insufficient to maintain organ function following cell death. Among the intrinsic mechanisms that control a conserved program of replicative senescence is the enzyme telomerase, which synthesizes the telomeric repeat for end-capping of each chromosome. The implications of telomerase for cardiac growth have recently begun to be defined. Other functions of telomerase, in maintaining genome integrity, also hold importance for cardiac muscle, as a novel means to suppress apoptosis and, thus, salvage myocardium following ischemic injury.
- Cell cycle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine