The goal of this research proposal is to elucidate the mechanisms that regulate sister telomere cohesion in human cells. Telomeres are unique heterochromatic structures that require specialized mechanisms for their replication, protection, and cohesion. Establishment of cohesion between sister telomeres in S phase is essential for homologous recombination and DNA repair in G2 phase of the cell cycle and timely resolution of cohesion between sister telomeres at mitosis is critical for genome integrity. Our studies in human cells have shown that sister telomeres require distinct mechanisms (compared to sister arms and centromeres) for cohesion establishment in S phase and resolution in mitosis. Here we seek to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.
In Aim 1 we will determine how cohesion is established at telomeres and why it is important.
In Aim 2 we will determine how cohesion is removed from telomeres at mitosis and what happens if it is not. And in Aim 3 we will explore a novel hypothesis (based upon our new preliminary data) that persistent cohesion at mitosis is a general cellular mechanism for dealing with telomere dysfunction.

Public Health Relevance

Telomeres, the ends of chromosomes, play a crucial role in chromosome stability and genome integrity. Telomere dysfunction contributes to aging, cancer, and other human diseases, including dyskeratosis congenital an inherited bone marrow failure disease. The results from this project will reveal how telomere function is maintained in human cells and will thus impact our understanding of human disease and contribute to therapeutics in cancer and aging.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Molecular Genetics A Study Section (MGA)
Program Officer
Witkin, Keren L
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New York University
Schools of Medicine
New York
United States
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Smith, Susan (2018) Telomerase can't handle the stress. Genes Dev 32:597-599
Tripathi, Ekta; Smith, Susan (2017) Cell cycle-regulated ubiquitination of tankyrase 1 by RNF8 and ABRO1/BRCC36 controls the timing of sister telomere resolution. EMBO J 36:503-519
Lin, Jiangguo; Countryman, Preston; Chen, Haijiang et al. (2016) Functional interplay between SA1 and TRF1 in telomeric DNA binding and DNA-DNA pairing. Nucleic Acids Res 44:6363-76
Ramamoorthy, Mahesh; Smith, Susan (2015) Loss of ATRX Suppresses Resolution of Telomere Cohesion to Control Recombination in ALT Cancer Cells. Cancer Cell 28:357-69
Kim, Mi Kyung; Smith, Susan (2014) Persistent telomere cohesion triggers a prolonged anaphase. Mol Biol Cell 25:30-40
Bisht, Kamlesh K; Daniloski, Zharko; Smith, Susan (2013) SA1 binds directly to DNA through its unique AT-hook to promote sister chromatid cohesion at telomeres. J Cell Sci 126:3493-503
Bhanot, Monica; Smith, Susan (2012) TIN2 stability is regulated by the E3 ligase Siah2. Mol Cell Biol 32:376-84
Houghtaling, Benjamin R; Canudas, Silvia; Smith, Susan (2012) A role for sister telomere cohesion in telomere elongation by telomerase. Cell Cycle 11:19-25
Boehler, Christian; Gauthier, Laurent R; Mortusewicz, Oliver et al. (2011) Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 3 (PARP3), a newcomer in cellular response to DNA damage and mitotic progression. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:2783-8
Canudas, Silvia; Smith, Susan (2009) Differential regulation of telomere and centromere cohesion by the Scc3 homologues SA1 and SA2, respectively, in human cells. J Cell Biol 187:165-73

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