Chemistry Seminar Series: Lea Harrington

Tuesday, February 13, 2024 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Where there's a will, there's a way: How cells cope with eroding telomeres

Lea Harrington
Professor, Department of Biochemistry
University of Toronto

Tuesday, February 13, 2024
2:30 p.m.

In-person: C2-361 (Reading Room)

Abstract: Telomeres, the specialized structures located at the termini of linear chromosomes in eukaryotic cells, play a pivotal role in upholding genome stability and integrity. Our laboratory's research is dedicated to unraveling the telomere-mediated mechanisms governing genome integrity, with a specific focus on understanding the impact of various factors on the equilibrium of these non-coding, G-rich telomeric regions. Our investigations extend to exploring the profound implications of telomere dynamics for the fate of stem cells, normal cells, and tissues during aging and in the context of cancer. We employ a diverse array of techniques encompassing biochemical, genetic, and epigenetic analyses. Our studies span across species, ranging from budding yeast to humans, mice, and wild sheep. Through this cross-species analysis, we aim to discern conserved principles and species-specific nuances of the intricate regulation of these vital genomic elements. Our findings also have relevance to human diseases categorized as "telomeropathies," where telomere erosion plays a central role in bone marrow failure, immunological disorders, and other tissue-specific pathologies. By unraveling the connections between telomere dynamics, aging, and cancer, our aim is to contribute to the development of targeted interventions, particularly in the context of cancers and other diseases that exhibit an increased prevalence with age. This talk will focus on the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms cells use to cope with telomere erosion, and we will share some surprising findings that may shed new insights into our understanding of and approach to age-associated telomere dysfunction.