The role of ATM in telomere structure and function

T. K. Pandita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Ataxia telangiectasia (AT) is a rare human autosomal recessive disorder with a wide variety of phenotypic manifestations. AT patients are cancer prone and hypersensitive to ionizing radiation. Cells derived from AT patients require higher levels of serum factors, exhibit cytoskeletal defects, and undergo premature senescence in culture. The gene responsible for AT is ATM (ataxia-telangiectasia mutated), and its product has been implicated in mitogenic signal transduction, chromosome condensation, meiotic recombination, and cell cycle control. Because of the homology of the human ATM gene to the TEL1 and rad3 genes of yeast, it has been suggested that mutations in ATM could lead to defective telomere maintenance. The ATM gene product influences chromosome end associations, telomere length, and telomere clustering. The defective telomere metabolism in AT cells could be due to altered interactions between the telomeres and the nuclear matrix. These interactions were studied in nuclear matrix halos before and after irradiation. Altered telomere-nuclear matrix interactions were observed in cells derived from individuals with AT. AT cells also had different nucleosomal periodicity in their telomeres from normal cells. Both telomere-nuclear matrix interactions and nucleosomal periodicity were altered by treatment of primary AT fibroblasts with ionizing radiation. This effect was not observed in cells derived from normal individuals. A link was also found between altered telomere-nuclear matrix interactions, aberrant telomere clustering, and gonadal atrophy. The telomere defect was not corrected by the ectopic expression of the catalytic subunit of telomerase (TERT). Since alteration of the yeast telomere chromatin structure is known to influence gene expression, we compared expressed sequence tags (ESTs) of Atm-null mouse cells and normal mouse cells. Several ESTs were found to be aberranfiy expressed in Atm-null mouse cells. This paper summarizes our recent publications and presents some new data on the influence of ATM on telomere metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)642-647
Number of pages6
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number5 II
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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