Telomere structure and function in trypanosomes: a proposal

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2007 Jan;5(1):70-5. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1577. Epub 2006 Dec 11.


Telomeres are specialized DNA-protein complexes that stabilize chromosome ends, protecting them from nucleolytic degradation and illegitimate recombination. Telomeres form a heterochromatic structure that can suppress the transcription of adjacent genes. These structures might have additional roles in Trypanosoma brucei, as the major surface antigens of this parasite are expressed during its infectious stages from subtelomeric loci. We propose that the telomere protein complexes of trypanosomes and vertebrates are conserved and offer the hypothesis that growth and breakage of telomeric repeats has an important role in regulating parasite antigenic variation in trypanosomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigenic Variation / genetics*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / genetics
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Chromosome Segregation
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Protozoan Proteins / chemistry
  • Protozoan Proteins / metabolism
  • Telomere / chemistry
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / physiology*
  • Telomere / ultrastructure
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / immunology
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / physiology
  • Variant Surface Glycoproteins, Trypanosoma / genetics
  • Variant Surface Glycoproteins, Trypanosoma / immunology


  • Antigens, Protozoan
  • Protozoan Proteins
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins
  • Variant Surface Glycoproteins, Trypanosoma