The review considers data on the composition, organization, and functional significance of terminal regions in mammalian chromosomes, including telomeres and subtelomeric regions. Because of specific structure, features of DNA replication, and characteristic localization in somatic and meiotic cells, these regions are hot spots for many events associated with genome functioning in mammals. Instability of these regions is of special interest. Evidence suggesting that instability of chromosomal regions containing telomeric DNA is a factor of chromosome evolution is discussed. The association of size and structure of telomeric regions with replicative aging and cell immortalization is considered. The review deals in detail with classical and alternative mechanisms of telomere size control, the significance of changes in telomeric region length in ontogeny, oncotransformation, and evolution. The issues related to telomere destabilization and the role of this process in chromosome rearrangement formation and chromosome evolution are discussed. The origin of telomere repeats in interstitial chromosome sites, including regions of evolutionary fusions-fissions is given special consideration. The possible role of ribosomal repeats and mechanisms similar to ALT (alternative lengthening of telomeres) in telomere reorganization in some taxa are discussed.
Russian Journal of Genetics – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 23, 2007
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