Dr. Blackburn explains that with each round of replication, the protective repeats, or telomeres, on the end of chromosomes shorten, eventually leading to cellular senescence. Blackburn and her colleagues reasoned that there must be an enzyme that rebuilds the lost telomere so cell division can continue. She explains how this enzyme, called telomerase, was found and discusses its key role in cellular aging.
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Youreka Science Video about the Blackburn and Greider Paper
Research Paper Discussed in this Talk
Greider, CW, EH Blackburn. 1985. Identification of a specific telomere terminal transferase activity in Tetrahymena extracts. Cell 43:405-413.
Educator Resources (Educators only)
These questions and answers were designed to link the iBiology video to the research paper and for use as a classroom activity.
Prepared by Dr. Gabrielle Miller-Messner.
About the Speaker
Elizabeth Blackburn is a Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Blackburn has studied the role of telomeres and telomerase in protecting the ends of chromosomes for most of her career. She has received numerous honors for her work including the Lasker Award, the L’Oreal-UNESCO award for women in science, and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology.
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