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Cell. 1988 Feb 12;52(3):367-74.

Mitochondrial telomeres: surprising diversity of repeated telomeric DNA sequences among six species of Tetrahymena.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0215.


The DNA sequences at the ends of the linear mtDNA of 6 species of Tetrahymena encompassing 13 strains were determined. All the strains have variable numbers of a tandemly repeated DNA sequence, 31 bp to 53 bp in size, at their mtDNA termini. Based upon the size and nucleotide sequence of the terminal repeats, the telomeres can be separated into four classes. T. pigmentosa, hyperangularis, and hegewischi have different telomeric repeats on the two ends of their mtDNAs. The only conserved feature of the mtDNA termini is the presence of tandem repeats. The function of the repeats might be to promote unequal crossing over during recombination, thereby overcoming the problem of telomere replication for these linear DNAs.

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