Eukaryotic chromosomes terminate with specialized structures called telomeres. Maintenance of chromosomal ends in most eukaryotes studied to date requires a specialized enzyme, telomerase. Telomerase has been shown to be developmentally regulated in man and a few other multicellular organisms, while it is constitutively expressed in unicellular eukaryotes. Recently, we demonstrated telomerase activity in plant extracts using the PCR-based TRAP (Telomeric Repeat Amplification Protocol) assay developed for human cells. Here we report telomerase activities in two grass species, barley and maize, using a modified, semi-quantitative TRAP assay. Telomerase was highly active in very young immature embryos and gradually declined during embryo development. The endosperm telomerase activity was detectable, but significantly lower than in the embryo and declined during kernel development with no detectable activity in later stages. Telomerase activity in dissected maize embryo axis was several orders of magnitude higher than in the scutellum. Telomerase activity was not detected in a range of differentiated tissues including those with active meristems such as root tips as well as the internode and leaf base. The role of telomerase repression during differentiation and the relationship between chromosome healing and telomerase activity is discussed.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 6, 2004
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