Mammalian Ku86 mediates chromosomal fusions and apoptosis caused by critically short telomeres

Silvia Espejel, Sonia Franco, Sandra Rodríguez-Perales, Simon D. Bouffler, Juan C. Cigudosa, María A. Blasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Here we analyze the functional interaction between Ku86 and telomerase at the mammalian telomere by studying mice deficient for both proteins. We show that absence of Ku86 prevents the end-to-end chromosomal fusions that result from critical telomere shortening in telomerase-deficient mice. In addition, Ku86 deficiency rescues the male early germ cell apoptosis triggered by short telomeres in these mice. Together, these findings define a role for Ku86 in mediating chromosomal instability and apoptosis triggered by short telomeres. In addition, we show here that Ku86 deficiency results in telomerase-dependent telomere elongation and in the fusion of random pairs of chromosomes in telomerase-proficient cells, suggesting a model in which Ku86 keeps normal-length telomeres less accessible to telomerase-mediated telomere lengthening and to DNA repair activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2207-2219
Number of pages13
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Ku86
  • Telomerase
  • Telomere dysfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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