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Telomere

Structure, A Simple Counting Mechanism, The Discovery Of Telomeres, Telomerase

Telomeres are structures found at the ends of chromosomes in the cells of eukaryotes. Telomeres function by protecting chromosome ends from recombination, fusion to other chromosomes, or degradation by nucleases. They permit cells to distinguish between random DNA breaks and chromosome ends. They also play a significant role in determining the number of times that a normal cell can divide. Unicellular forms whose cells have no true nuclei (prokaryotes) possess circular chromosomes that, therefore, have no ends. Thus, prokaryotes can have no telomeres.

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Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 4