Telomeres, telomerase, and stability of the plant genome. Academic Article uri icon


  • Telomeres, the complex nucleoprotein structures at the ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes, along with telomerase, the enzyme that synthesizes telomeric DNA, are required to maintain a stable genome. Together, the enzyme and substrate perform this essential service by protecting chromosomes from exonucleolytic degradation and end-to-end fusions and by compensating for the inability of conventional DNA replication machinery to completely duplicate the ends of linear chromosomes. Telomeres are also important for chromosome organization within the nucleus, especially during mitosis and meiosis. The contributions of telomeres and telomerases to plant genome stability have been confirmed by analysis of Arabidopsis mutants that lack telomerase activity. These mutants have unstable genomes, but manage to survive up to ten generations with increasingly shortened telomeres and cytogenetic abnormalities. Comparisons between telomerase-deficient Arabidopsis and telomerase-deficient mice reveal distinct differences in the consequences of massive genome damage, probably reflecting the greater developmental and genomic plasticity of plants.

published proceedings

  • Plant Mol Biol

author list (cited authors)

  • McKnight, T. D., Riha, K., & Shippen, D. E.

citation count

  • 54

complete list of authors

  • McKnight, Thomas D||Riha, Karel||Shippen, Dorothy E

publication date

  • March 2002