An unscientific discussion on Telomeres and ageing

farmerj farmerj at
Fri Oct 27 15:17:01 EST 1995

One of the items in this posting suggests that cell death 
which is associated with loss of telomeres may not be caused by 
loss of functional genes.  Although that is probably not always 
true, it may be that the usual cause of cell death is only 
indirectly linked to loss of genetic information. 

I suspect that the usual immediate consequence of telomere loss 
would be the production of chromosomal aberrations.  The loss 
of a single telomere would lead to a breakage-fusion-bridge 
cycle.  The loss of two telomeres simultaneously could lead to 
formation of a ring chromosome or a dicentric chromosome.  All 
of these aberrations would be likely to cause genetic death of 
the cell, either due to aneuploidy, deficiency, duplication, or 
physical prevention of mitosis by interlinked rings or 

I do not know the literature in this field.  Can someone 
enlighten me as to whether aberrations have been shown to 
increase as the average telomere length shortens?

James Farmer
Dept. of Zoology
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602, USA

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