Jemielity, Stephanie, Kimura, Masayuki, Parker, Karen M., Parker, Joel D., Cao, Xiaojian, Aviv, Abraham and Keller, Laurent
Short telomeres in short-lived males: what are the molecular and evolutionary causes?
Aging Cell, 6, (2), . (doi:10.1111/j.1474-9726.2007.00279.x).
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Telomere length regulation is an important aspect of cell maintenance in eukaryotes,
since shortened telomeres can lead to a number of defects, including impaired cell
division. Although telomere length is correlated with lifespan in some bird species, its
possible role in aging and lifespan determination is still poorly understood. Here we
investigate telomere dynamics (changes in telomere length and attrition rate) and
telomerase activity in the ant Lasius niger, a species in which different groups of
individuals have evolved extraordinarily different lifespans. We found that somatic
tissues of the short-lived males had dramatically shorter telomeres than those of the much
longer-lived queens and workers. These differences were established early during larval
development, most likely through faster telomere shortening in males compared with
females. Workers did not, however, have shorter telomeres than the longer-lived queens.
We discuss various molecular mechanisms that are likely to cause the observed sexspecific
telomere dynamics in ants, including cell division, oxidative stress and
telomerase activity. In addition, we discuss the evolutionary causes of such patterns in
ants and in other species.
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