The Viral Origins of Telomeres and Telomerases and their Important Role in Eukaryogenesis and Genome Maintenance

Biosemiotics 1 (2):191-206 (2008)
Whereas telomeres protect terminal ends of linear chromosomes, telomerases identify natural chromosome ends, which differ from broken DNA and replicate telomeres. Although telomeres play a crucial role in the linear chromosome organization of eukaryotic cells, their molecular syntax most probably descended from an ancient retroviral competence. This indicates an early retroviral colonization of large double-stranded DNA viruses, which are putative ancestors of the eukaryotic nucleus. This contribution demonstrates an advantage of the biosemiotic approach towards our evolutionary understanding of telomeres, telomerases, other reverse transcriptases and mobile elements. Their role in genetic/genomic content organization and maintenance is no longer viewed as an object of randomly derived alterations (mutations) but as a highly sophisticated hierarchy of regulatory networks organized and coordinated by natural genome-editing competences of viruses
Keywords Telomeres  Telomerases  Eukaryotic nucleus  Persistent viruses
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DOI 10.1007/s12304-008-9018-0
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