Abstract: Telomeres are specialized nucleoprotein structures that have two important functions: (i) protection of the chromosomal ends from deleterious events such as chromosome fusion and degradation; (ii) counteraction of the “end replication problem” by allowing telomerase-dependent or, more rarely, telomerase-independent telomere elongation. The DNA sequences underlying these activities are short simple tandem repeats, which in vertebrate consist of a variable number of TTAGGG. Telomeres dysfunction may be caused either by the absence of telomerase activity or by mutations in telomeric proteins involved in telomere length and structure regulation. Additionally, increasing experimental evidence suggests that telomeres take part in the complex network regulating cell proliferation. Accordingly, telomeres are involved in biological process such as aging and tumor progression. In this study we determined the telomere length in two bovine Italian cattle breeds, Chianina and Maremmana, which are characterized by high longevity and range breeding. In order to account for possible variation among different tissues, we have determined telomere length in different organs such as spleen, lung and liver. Overall, the median telomere length was significant lower in Chianina (11 ± 0.69 kb) than in Maremmana (12.05 ± 1.57 kb). Moreover, telomere length variation among individuals was very low in Chianina but rather high in Maremmana. These data suggest that telomere length is influenced by the breeds. This hypothesis is confirmed by the different history of these Italian breeds. Indeed, Chianina has a long history and its size was maintained by the Breeders Association without necessity to crossbreed with other breeds, whereas the population of Maremmana underwent a dramatic shrinkage in the recent past. Therefore, breeders have crossed Maremmana with other breeds, like Charolais, and have relaxed the rules for the inclusion in the herd book.
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Tilesi, F.; Domenico, E.G.D.; Pariset, L.; Bosco, L.; Willems, D.; Valentini, A.; Ascenzioni, F. Telomere Length Diversity in Cattle Breeds. Diversity 2010, 2, 1118-1129.
Tilesi F, Domenico EGD, Pariset L, Bosco L, Willems D, Valentini A, Ascenzioni F. Telomere Length Diversity in Cattle Breeds. Diversity. 2010; 2(9):1118-1129.
Tilesi, Francesca; Domenico, Enea Gino Di; Pariset, Lorraine; Bosco, Luigi; Willems, Daniela; Valentini, Alessio; Ascenzioni, Fiorentina. 2010. "Telomere Length Diversity in Cattle Breeds." Diversity 2, no. 9: 1118-1129.