Non-telomeric activities of telomerase
Recent results suggest that telomerase is involved in many more cellular processes than merely telomere elongation. These include telomere-independent anti-apoptotic, cytoprotective and pro-proliferative effects of telomerase or protection of mitochondrial DNA against oxidative stress. Telomerase also participates in DNA repair and its essential subunits, hTR and hTERT, are able to modulate independently the cell's response to DNA damage. Recent high throughput analyses of gene expression showed that hTERT expression modulates expression of about 300 genes, including genes involved in the regulation of cell cycle progression, proliferation and differentiation. Besides the well-known telomerase catalytic activity of RNA-dependent DNA polymerase, its RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity was recently described in association with the RNA subunit of mitochondrial RNA processing endoribonuclease, thus suggesting involvement of telomerase in RNA interference processes. These recent discoveries open novel possibilities and entirely unexpected research perspectives, branching off from the mainstream telomere and telomerase research.