While the vast majority of eukaryotic organisms maintain their chromosome ends (telomeres) via telomerase, an enzyme system that generates short, tandem repeats on the ends of chromosomes, other mechanisms such as the transposition of retrotransposons (e.g. Drosophila) or recombination (e.g. Yeast) can also be used in some species.

I would like to know of your thoughts on the possible mechanisms that regulate telomere lengths in mosquitoes.


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It seems that the current model is that recombination is the mechanism by which telomere length is maintained in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. Here is an exerpt of Roth et al paper that proposed the recombination mechanism:

The insertion of a transgenic pUChsneo plasmid at the left end of chromosome 2 provided a unique marker for measuring the dynamics of the 2L telomere over a period of about 3 years. The terminal length was relatively uniform in the 1993 population with the chromosomes ending within the white gene sequence of the inserted transgene. Cloned terminal chromosome fragments did not end in short repeat sequences that could have been synthesized by telomerase. By late 1995, the chromosome ends had become heterogeneous: some had further shortened while other chromosomes had been elongated by regenerating part of the integrated pUChsneo plasmid. A model is presented for extension of the 2L chromosome by recombination between homologous 2L chromosome ends by using the partial plasmid duplication generated during its original integration.

You might also be interested in this paper: Genes required to maintain telomeres in the absence of telomerase in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and then look at whether there are mosquito homologs of the identified yeast genes that might be involved in telomere maintance.

  • $\begingroup$ Cheers @Gergana Vandova Do you think this mechanism of telomere length maintenance would require any specialized enzymes? $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2014 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ mm that's a good question. My first thought would be no, as eukaryotic cells are in general capable of recombination. I am not really familiar with mosquitoes, but would assume that applies for them as well. But again, it might be possible that there are telomere-specific recombination enzymes. Worth looking into. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2014 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ May I ask, are you a telomere biologist? $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2014 at 23:22
  • $\begingroup$ No I am not but I know the principle. You should just read this paper and try see whether you believe the interpretation of their data. Also just wait to see what other people might say about that. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2014 at 23:22
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    $\begingroup$ I can actually help you with that! Steve Artandi (Stanford University) is working on telomeres. You might be able to talk to one of his students... Email me at [email protected] if you are interested. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2014 at 23:35

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