Author(s): Eisenhauer KM, Gerstein RM, Chiu CP, Conti M, Hsueh AJ
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Abstract Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein that synthesizes telomeric DNA at the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes. It has been hypothesized that telomerase activity is necessary for cellular immortalization and that telomerase activity is present in cells of germline origin. The objective of the present study was to determine the level of telomerase activity in the following rat cells: 1) oocytes from follicles at different stages of development, 2) spermatogenic cells, and 3) early embryos. Telomerase activity was quantitated using a recently developed, sensitive polymerase chain reaction-based assay and a human kidney cell line (293) as a standard. Telomerase activity was found in oocytes from early antral and preovulatory follicles, as well as in ovulated oocytes. The level of enzyme activity in early antral and preovulatory follicles was comparable to that of the 293 cells, while levels in ovulated oocytes were 50-fold lower. Telomerase activity was present in even lower levels in pachytene spermatocytes and round spermatids, and no telomerase activity was detected in spermatozoa from either the caput or the cauda epididymis. After fertilization, telomerase activity was present in 4-cell embryos. Telomerase activity was also detected in several rat somatic tissues. These data demonstrate that telomerase activity is present in germ cells at several stages of differentiation, with the exception of spermatozoa, and suggest that telomerase activity may be important during meiosis. The high levels of telomerase activity in individual oocytes may serve as a marker for monitoring the effects of hormonal agents, aging, and toxins on oocyte quality.
This article was published in Biol Reprod
and referenced in Cloning & Transgenesis