Marita Cohn

Senior Lecturer, PhD, Associate Professor

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Cancer and Oncology


  • telomere, telomerase, DNA binding proteins, yeast, molecular genetics


The telomeres are the DNA-protein structures at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, which serve to protect and stabilize the genome. Normal cellular ageing involves the shortening of telomeres in each cell division. In cancer cells, the telomerase enzyme elongates telomeres, providing a mechanism for a continued unlimited cell division. Finding components that can act as inhibitors of this elongation will provide a general treatment that will be applicable to most cancer types. In our research we aim to shed light on the molecular mechanisms for the telomerase elongation and maintenance processes of telomeres. Since telomerase is recruited to and elongates the single-stranded telomeric 3overhangs, the generation of 3overhangs is an essential step in the maintenance process. We therefore focus on elucidating the roles of the telomere binding proteins in this process. We are using the yeast model organism Saccharomyces castellii, which has telomere traits and telomerase activity that are highly similar to human cells. Although most cancer cells activate telomerase to maintain telomere length, about 10% of tumors use an alternative telomere lengthening mechanism, the so-called ALT mechanism. Since an inhibition of telomerase activity may lead to the activation of ALT survivors, potential combinatorial treatments would be a more efficient strategy for cancer therapy. To identify potential targets for such therapies, we aim to uncover the fundamental molecular mechanisms underlying ALT survival. 

Highlighted research outputs

Karademir Andersson, A., Gustafsson, C., Krishnankutty, R. & Marita Cohn, 2017 Jul 7, In : Journal of Molecular Biology. 429, 14, p. 2109-2123 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rikard Runnberg, Narayanan, S. & Marita Cohn, 2017 Dec 1, In : Scientific Reports. 7, 1, 8729.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Karademir Andersson, A., Stina Oredsson & Marita Cohn, 2016 Sep 26, In : Yeast (Chichester, England). 33, 12, p. 633–646 14 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Marita Cohn & Karademir Andersson, A., 2017 Mar, In : Yeast. 34, 3, p. 95-109 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fridholm, H., Astromskas, E. & Marita Cohn, 2012, In : Nucleic Acids Research.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gustafsson, C., Rhodin, J. & Marita Cohn, 2011, In : Journal of Biological Chemistry. 286, 52, p. 45174-45185

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rhodin, J., Gustafsson, C. & Marita Cohn, 2011, In : Genome Integrity. 2, 1, 9 p., 2.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Marita Cohn & Blackburn, E. H., 1995, In : Science. 269, 5222, p. 396-400

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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