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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 22;6(2):e17199. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017199.

Inheritance of telomere length in a bird.

Author information

1
School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. thorstenhorn@gmx.net

Abstract

Telomere dynamics are intensively studied in human ageing research and epidemiology, with many correlations reported between telomere length and age-related diseases, cancer and death. While telomere length is influenced by environmental factors there is also good evidence for a strong heritable component. In human, the mode of telomere length inheritance appears to be paternal and telomere length differs between sexes, with females having longer telomeres than males. Genetic factors, e.g. sex chromosomal inactivation, and non-genetic factors, e.g. antioxidant properties of oestrogen, have been suggested as possible explanations for these sex-specific telomere inheritance and telomere length differences. To test the influence of sex chromosomes on telomere length, we investigated inheritance and sex-specificity of telomere length in a bird species, the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus), in which females are the heterogametic sex (ZW) and males are the homogametic (ZZ) sex. We found that, contrary to findings in humans, telomere length was maternally inherited and also longer in males. These results argue against an effect of sex hormones on telomere length and suggest that factors associated with heterogamy may play a role in telomere inheritance and sex-specific differences in telomere length.

PMID:
21364951
PMCID:
PMC3043093
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0017199
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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