|"my what lovely telomeres you have" said the wolf-virus |
to the little red-riding hood-cell
Cells have their own version of Spock's famous missive "Live long and prosper." Cells make this statement using repetitive DNA sequences found on end of chromosomes called "telomeres." Telomeres act as a cap on the end of chromosomes. They are thought to be another "guardian of the genome" of sorts. Some scientists believe that longevity is related to telomere length. In fact, telomeres have been shown to be longer in individuals who are healthy and exercising compared to individuals who are under stress.
What's even more interesting is that telomeres are thrown out or lost during cell division so they have to be "remade" using a specific polymerase.
How do telomeres protect DNA?
Some bacteria have telomeres, so from one perspective it looks like they were handed down via evolution. Why use what appear to be accidental sequences to make the ends of chromosomes? Is there some advantage or design feature inherent in these chromosomal pieces?