Considering the complexity of embryogenesis, a temporal referance would be helpful to coordinate the developmental sequences during embryogenesis and fetal development which is to be completed within the gestation period. Can telomere shortening if consistant be used as a reference by every cell to do what it is destined to do at particular time frame? This is without considering the influence of telomerase etc.

This is also without prejudice to the role of DNA directed molecular signalling.

To repeat the question is telomere shortening consistant over consecutive cell divisions from zygote to a differentiated cell? If so can it function as temporal control of embryogenesis?


1 Answer 1


It is not consistent, and so cannot function as a temporal or generational signal. Not because the telomere shortening is unpredictable, but because of telomerase activity in the embryo.

If it did, gamete production in specialized tissues like the ovaries or testes would have shorter telomeres than the zygote they originated from. Each generation would have shorter telomeres than their parents. They would be genetically 'older', which can't go on forever.

Development is incredibly complicated and mediated by a large number of genes. Try homeobox genes for developmental layout.


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