© 2014 by the Society for the Study of Reproduction, Inc.
Telomeres are ribonucleoprotein structures at the end of chromosomes composed of telomeric DNA, specific-binding proteins, and noncoding RNA (TERRA). Despite their importance in preventing chromosome instability, little is known about the cross talk between these three elements during the formation of the germ line. Here, we provide evidence that both TERRA and the telomerase enzymatic subunit (TERT) are components of telomeres in mammalian germ cells. We found that TERRA colocalizes with telomeres during mammalian meiosis and that its expression progressively increases during spermatogenesis until the beginning of spermiogenesis. While both TERRA levels and distribution would be regulated in a gender-specific manner, telomere-TERT colocalization appears to be regulated based on species-specific characteristics of the telomeric structure. Moreover, we found that TERT localization at telomeres is maintained throughout spermatogenesis as a structural component without affecting telomere elongation. Our results represent the first evidence of colocalization between telomerase and telomeres during mammalian gametogenesis.