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Nucleic Acids Res. 1995 Apr 11;23(7):1091-7.

Ciliate telomerase RNA structural features.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455, USA.


Telomerase RNA is an integral part of telomerase, the ribonucleoprotein enzyme that catalyzes the synthesis of telomeric DNA. The RNA moiety contains a templating domain that directs the synthesis of a species-specific telomeric repeat and may also be important for enzyme structure and/or catalysis. Phylogenetic comparisons of telomerase RNA sequences from various Tetrahymena spp. and hypotrich ciliates have revealed two conserved secondary structure models that share many features. We have cloned and sequenced the telomerase RNA genes from an additional six Tetrahymena spp. (T. vorax, T. borealis, T. australis, T. silvana, T. capricornis and T. paravorax). Inclusion of these sequences, most notably that from T. paravorax, in a phylogenetic comparative analysis allowed us to more narrowly define structural elements that may be necessary for a minimal telomerase RNA. A primary sequence element, positioned 5' of the template and conserved between all previously known ciliate telomerase RNAs, has been reduced from 5'-(C)UGUCA-3' to the 4 nt sequence 5'-GUCA-3'. Conserved secondary structural features and the impact they have on the general organization of ciliate telomerase RNAs is discussed.

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