© 2014 The Royal Entomological Society.
Although there are alternative telomere structures, most telomeres contain DNA arrays of short repeats (6-26 bp) maintained by telomerase. Like other diptera, Chironomus riparius has noncanonical telomeres and three subfamilies, TsA, TsB and TsC, of longer sequences (176 bp) are found at their chromosomal ends. Reverse transcription PCR was used to show that different RNAs are transcribed from these sequences. Only one strand from TsA sequences seems to render a noncoding RNA (named CriTER-A); transcripts from both TsB strands were found (CriTER-B and αCriTER-B) but no TsC transcripts were detected. Interestingly, these sequences showed a differential transcriptional response upon heat shock, and they were also differentially affected by inhibitors of RNA polymerase II and RNA polymerase III. A computer search for transcription factor binding sites revealed putative regulatory cis-elements within the transcribed sequence, reinforcing the experimental evidence which suggests that the telomeric repeat might function as a promoter. This work describes the telomeric transcriptome of an insect with non-telomerase telomeres, confirming the evolutionary conservation of telomere transcription. Our data reveal differences in the regulation of telomeric transcripts between control and stressful environmental conditions, supporting the idea that telomeric RNAs could have a relevant role in cellular metabolism in insect cells.