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Nucleic Acids Res. 2004 Jun 24;32(11):3383-91. Print 2004.

Strain-specific telomere length revealed by single telomere length analysis in Caenorhabditis elegans.

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  • 1Terry Fox Laboratory, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC V5Z 4E6, Canada.


Terminal restriction fragment analysis is the only method currently available for measuring telomere length in Caenorhabditis elegans. Its limitations include low sensitivity and interference by the presence of interstitial telomeric sequences in the C.elegans genome. Here we report the adaptation of single telomere length analysis (STELA) to measure the length of telomeric repeats on the left arm of chromosome V in C.elegans. This highly sensitive PCR-based method allows telomere length measurement from as few as a single worm. The application of STELA to eight wild-type C.elegans strains revealed considerable strain-specific differences in telomere length. Within individual strains, short outlying telomeres were observed that were clearly distinct from the bulk telomere length distributions, suggesting that processes other than end-replication losses and telomerase-mediated lengthening may generate telomere length heterogeneity in C.elegans. The utility of this method was further demonstrated by the characterization of telomere shortening in mrt-2 mutants. We conclude that STELA appears to be a valuable tool for studying telomere biology in C.elegans.

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