Distribution of TTAGG-specific telomerase activity in insects

Chromosome Res. 2014 Dec;22(4):495-503. doi: 10.1007/s10577-014-9436-6. Epub 2014 Aug 1.


In most eukaryotes, telomeres consist of tandem arrays of a short repetitive DNA sequence. Insect telomeres are generally constituted by a (TTAGG)n repeat motif. Usually, telomeres are maintained by telomerase, a specialized reverse transcriptase that adds this sequence to chromosome ends. We examined telomerase activity in 15 species across Insecta. Telomerase activity was revealed in Isoptera, Blattaria, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Trichoptera, Coleoptera, and Sternorrhyncha. In contrast, we were not able to detect telomerase activity in Orthoptera, Zygentoma, and Phasmida. Because we found telomerase activity in phylogenetically distant species, we conclude that a distribution pattern of (TTAGG)n sequence in Insecta is generally consistent with that of telomerase activity. Thus, the TTAGG-telomerase system is functional across the Insecta. Using real-time quantitative telomeric repeat amplification protocol (RTQ-TRAP) system, we quantified telomerase activity in different developmental stages and different tissues of a cockroach, Periplaneta americana. We show that telomerase is upregulated in young instars and gradually declines during development. In adults, it is most active in testes and ovaries. Thus, the telomerase activity of hemimetabolous insects seems to be associated with cell proliferation and organismal development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bombyx / genetics
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Insecta / genetics*
  • Phylogeny*
  • Tandem Repeat Sequences / genetics
  • Telomerase / genetics*
  • Telomere / genetics*


  • Telomerase