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Telomere length varies substantially between blood cell types in a reptile


Olsson, M and Geraghty, NJ and Wapstra, E and Wilson, M, Telomere length varies substantially between blood cell types in a reptile, Royal Society Open Science, 7, (6) Article 192136. ISSN 2054-5703 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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© 2020 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited

DOI: doi:10.1098/rsos.192136


Telomeres are repeat sequences of non-coding DNA-protein molecules that cap or intersperse metazoan chromosomes. Interest in telomeres has increased exponentially in recent years, to now include their ongoing dynamics and evolution within natural populations where individuals vary in telomere attributes. Phylogenetic analyses show profound differences in telomere length across non-model taxa. However, telomeres may also differ in length within individuals and between tissues. The latter becomes a potential source of error when researchers use different tissues for extracting DNA for telomere analysis and scientific inference. A commonly used tissue type for assessing telomere length is blood, a tissue that itself varies in terms of nuclear content among taxa, in particular to what degree their thrombocytes and red blood cells (RBCs) contain nuclei or not. Specifically, when RBCs lack nuclei, leucocytes become the main source of telomeric DNA. RBCs and leucocytes differ in lifespan and how long they have been exposed to ‘senescence' and erosion effects. We report on a study in which cells in whole blood from individual Australian painted dragon lizards (Ctenophorus pictus) were identified using flow cytometry and their telomere length simultaneously measured. Lymphocyte telomeres were on average 270% longer than RBC telomeres, and in azurophils (a reptilian monocyte), telomeres were more than 388% longer than those in RBCs. If this variation in telomere length among different blood cell types is a widespread phenomenon, and DNA for comparative telomere analyses are sourced from whole blood, evolutionary inference of telomere traits among taxa may be seriously complicated by the blood cell type comprising the main source of DNA.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:telomeres, blood cell type, nucleated versus nonnucleated, lizard, Ctenophorus pictus
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Evolutionary ecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Wapstra, E (Associate Professor Erik Wapstra)
ID Code:143754
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2021-03-31
Last Modified:2021-05-26
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