Telomeres are the ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes facilitating the resolution of the ‘end replication and protection’ problems, associated with linearity. At the nucleotide level, telomeres typically represent stretches of tandemly arranged telomeric repeats, which vary in length and sequence among different groups of organisms. Recently, a composition of the telomere-associated protein complex has been scrutinized in Trypanosoma brucei. In this work, we subjected proteins from that list to a more detailed bioinformatic analysis and delineated a core set of 20 conserved proteins putatively associated with telomeres in trypanosomatids. Out of these, two proteins (Ku70 and Ku80) are conspicuously missing in representatives of the genus Blastocrithidia, yet telomeres in these species do not appear to be affected. In this work, based on the analysis of a large set of trypanosomatids widely different in their phylogenetic position and life strategies, we demonstrated that telomeres of trypanosomatids are diverse in length, even within groups of closely related species. Our analysis showed that the expression of two proteins predicted to be associated with telomeres (those encoding telomerase and telomere-associated hypothetical protein orthologous to Tb927.6.4330) may directly affect and account for the differences in telomere length within the species of the Leishmania mexicana complex.
Keywords: Genomes; Trypanosomatidae; telomere maintenance.