Telomerase maintains telomeric DNA in eukaryotes during early developments, ~90% of cancer cells and some proliferative stem like cells. Telomeric repeats at the end of chromosomes are associated with the shelterin complex. This complex consists of TRF1, TRF2, Rap1, TIN2, TPP1, POT1 which protect DNA from being recognized as DNA double-stranded breaks. Critically short telomeres or impaired shelterin proteins can cause telomere dysfunction, which eventually induces DNA damage responses at the telomeres. DNA damage responses can be identified by antibodies to 53BP1, gammaH2AX, Rad17, ATM, and Mre11. DNA damage foci at uncapped telomeres are referred to as Telomere dysfunction-Induced Foci (TIFs) (de Lange, 2005; Takai et al., 2003).
The TIF assay is based on the co-localization detection of DNA damage by an antibody against DNA damage markers, such as gamma-H2AX, and telomeres using an antibody against one of the shelterin proteins such as TRF2 (Takai et al., 2003; de Lange, 2002; Karlseder et al., 1999). The method we describe here can be used in normal human and cancer cells.
Other commonly used methods-Telomere Restriction Fragment (TRF) Analysis (Mender and Shay, 2015b) and Telomere Repeat Amplification Protocol (TRAP) (Mender and Shay, 2015a)- in telomere biology can be found by clicking on the indicated links.
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