Telomerase is a specialized DNA polymerase that adds telomeric sequences onto chromosome ends. The functional telomerase complex contains a telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) and also a telomerase RNA (TR). Although it is well established that the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) can function well in different human cell lines, it has not been shown whether it is compatible with telomerase template RNA from other species. Here we report that the expressed hTERT is functionally compatible with rabbit telomerase template RNA (rTR) as demonstrated by TRAP assay. The direct interaction between hTERT and rTR is further confirmed by immunoprecipitation-linked RT-PCR in which rTR is detected from the complex immunoprecipitated by an anti-hTERT antibody. The hTERT expressed in rabbit lens epithelial cells demonstrates two major functions: modulation of expression of other genes and attenuation of apoptosis. Thus, telomerase has a variety of functions besides telomere synthesis, and the template RNA is functionally conserved between human and rabbit.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.