2017 Volume 92 Issue 3 Pages 107-118
The ends of eukaryotic linear chromosomes are protected from undesired enzymatic activities by a nucleoprotein complex called the telomere. Expanding evidence indicates that telomeres have central functions in human aging and tumorigenesis. While it is undoubtedly important to follow current advances in telomere biology, it is also fruitful to be well informed in seminal historical studies for a comprehensive understanding of telomere biology, and for the anticipation of future directions. With this in mind, I here summarize the early history of telomere biology and current advances in the field, mostly focusing on mammalian studies relevant to aging and cancer.