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Preface/Front Matter

Titia De Lange, Vicki Lundblad, Elizabeth Blackburn


Ten years ago, elizabeth blackburn and Carol Greider assembled the first monograph on telomeres. In an era focused on gene expression, telomeres were beginning to attract wider attention, largely because of the emerging link between telomerase and cancer. The first edition lent gravitas to this young field, so small at that time that the majority of its members were contributors to the monograph. As telomeres became the focus of interest for an increasing number of investigators, the first edition served as a unique and valuable compendium.

Over the past decade, the field has advanced rapidly. Whereas there were 2,553 publications on telomeres and telomerase by the end of 1995, PubMed informs us that this number is 13,378 today. The telomerase reverse transcriptase, TERT, was cloned and shown to immortalize human cells. The complex role of telomere dynamics in human cancer became clear, in great part because of modeling in the mouse. Mutations leading to diminished telomerase activity were found in patients with progressive bone marrow failure. The t-loop structure of mammalian telomeres was revealed. The mechanism by which telomerase is recruited to chromosome ends emerged in fine detail in budding yeast, and the principles of telomere length homeostasis became known in broad strokes in several settings. New telomeric proteins were identified in yeast, plants, and mammals, and the consequences of telomere dysfunction were established in many systems.

It was obvious to us that simple revision of the first edition was not the right strategy for the current version. The second

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