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Gene. 2001 Feb 21;264(2):153-61.

Expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase and telomere elongation during sexual maturation in Paramecium caudatum.

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Laboratory of Chief Senior Researcher, National Institute of Bioscience and Human-Technology, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8566, Japan.


Paramecium caudatum has a sexually immature period that lasts for about 60 fissions. To examine the possibility that telomere length is one of the determining factors of the duration of immaturity, we cloned the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene from P. caudatum, and analyzed its expression levels at mRNA, telomerase activity, and telomere length during the course of clonal division. Paramecium TERT (Pc_TERT) cDNA encodes a basic protein of 107 kDa that harbors conserved RT motifs, T motif, CP motif, and N motif. Pc_TERT mRNA is expressed at very low levels only detectable by RT-PCR, but constitutively, during immature and mature periods, exhibiting abundant telomerase activity. No clear phase shift in Pc_TERT expression, telomerase activity, or telomere length was observed at the point of maturation in P. caudatum. Instead, the telomere elongates successively as cells divide in P. caudatum, although a close species, P. tetraurelia, was reported to keep the length constant. We discuss possible mechanisms for the expression of sexual activity associated with telomere length in P. caudatum.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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