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No Interstitial Telomeres on Autosomes but Remarkable Amplification of Telomeric Repeats on the W Sex Chromosome in the Sand Lizard (Lacerta agilis).

Authors: Kazumi K. Matsubara, Yoshinobu Y. Uno, Kornsorn K. Srikulnath, Yoichi Y. Matsuda, Emily E. Miller, Mats M. Olsson
Published: 10/12/2015, The Journal of heredity


Telomeres are repeat (TTAGGG) n sequences that form terminal ends of chromosomes and have several functions, such as protecting the coding DNA from erosion at mitosis. Due to chromosomal rearrangements through evolutionary history (e.g., inversions and fusions), telomeric sequences are also found between the centromere and the terminal ends (i.e., at interstitial telomeric sites, ITSs). ITS telomere sequences have been implicated in heritable disease caused by genomic instability of ITS polymorphic variants, both with respect to copy number and sequence. In the sand lizard (Lacerta agilis), we have shown that telomere length is predictive of lifetime fitness in females but not males. To assess whether this sex specific fitness effect could be traced to ITSs differences, we mapped (TTAGGG) n sequences using fluorescence in situ hybridization in fibroblast cells cultured from 4 specimens of known sex. No ITSs could be found on autosomes in either sex. However, females have heterogametic sex chromosomes in sand lizards (ZW, 2n = 38) and the female W chromosome showed degeneration and remarkable (TTAGGG) n amplification, which was absent in the Z chromosomes. This work warrants further research on sex chromosome content, in particular of the degenerate W chromosome, and links to female fitness in sand lizards.

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