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Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp 847–865 | Cite as

If the cap fits, wear it: an overview of telomeric structures over evolution

  • Nick Fulcher
  • Elisa Derboven
  • Sona Valuchova
  • Karel RihaEmail author
Review

Abstract

Genome organization into linear chromosomes likely represents an important evolutionary innovation that has permitted the development of the sexual life cycle; this process has consequently advanced nuclear expansion and increased complexity of eukaryotic genomes. Chromosome linearity, however, poses a major challenge to the internal cellular machinery. The need to efficiently recognize and repair DNA double-strand breaks that occur as a consequence of DNA damage presents a constant threat to native chromosome ends known as telomeres. In this review, we present a comparative survey of various solutions to the end protection problem, maintaining an emphasis on DNA structure. This begins with telomeric structures derived from a subset of prokaryotes, mitochondria, and viruses, and will progress into the typical telomere structure exhibited by higher organisms containing TTAGG-like tandem sequences. We next examine non-canonical telomeres from Drosophila melanogaster, which comprise arrays of retrotransposons. Finally, we discuss telomeric structures in evolution and possible switches between canonical and non-canonical solutions to chromosome end protection.

Keywords

Telomeres Telomerase Chromosomes Genome evolution DNA repair Retrotransposons 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Our research on telomeres is supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF, Y418-B03) and Austrian Academy of Sciences.

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nick Fulcher
    • 1
  • Elisa Derboven
    • 1
  • Sona Valuchova
    • 1
  • Karel Riha
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Gregor Mendel InstituteAustrian Academy of SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Central European Institute of TechnologyBrnoCzech Republic

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