Characterization and developmental patterns of telomerase expression in plants Academic Article uri icon


  • Telomerase activity is developmentally regulated in mammals. Here we examine telomerase activity in plants, whose development differs in fundamental ways from that of animals. Using a modified version of the telomere repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay, we detected an activity in extracts from carrots, cauliflower, soybean, Arabidopsis, and rice with all the characteristics expected for a telomerase synthesizing the plant telomere repeat sequence TTTAGGG. The activity was dependent on RNA and protein components, required dGTP, dATP, and dTTP, but not dCTP, and generated products with a seven nucleotide periodicity. Telomerase activity was abundant in cauliflower meristematic tissue and undifferentiated cells from Arabidopsis, soybean, and carrot suspension cultures, but was low or not detectable in a sampling of differentiated tissues from mature plants. Telomerase from cauliflower meristematic tissues exhibited relaxed DNA sequence requirements, which might reflect the capacity to form telomeres on broken chromosomes in vivo. The dramatic differences in telomerase expression and their correlation with cellular proliferation capacity mirror changes in human telomerase levels during differentiation and immortalization. Hence, telomerase activation appears to be a conserved mechanism involved in conferring long-term proliferation capacity.

author list (cited authors)

  • Fitzgerald, M. S., McKnight, T. D., & Shippen, D. E.

citation count

  • 128

complete list of authors

  • Fitzgerald, MS||McKnight, TD||Shippen, DE

publication date

  • December 1996