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1 October 2000 Telomerase Activity in Bovine Embryos During Early Development
Jie Xu, Xiangzhong Yang
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The telomere is the end structure of the DNA molecule. Telomerase is the ribonuclear enzyme that helps the cell's telomere to elongate; otherwise, the telomere will shorten with each cell division through conventional DNA replication. In most mammalian species, telomerase activity is present in germ cells but not in somatic cells. Recent research shows that telomerase activity is also present in early embryos, but to our knowledge, the dynamics of this enzyme during early embryo development have not been studied. In the present work, we conducted telomerase activity assays on bovine embryos fertilized in vitro and harvested at different stages from zygote to blastocyst. A polymerase chain reaction-based assay (Telomeric Repeat Amplification Protocol) was used to detect the telomerase activity in these embryos. We demonstrated that the telomerase activity is present in the early embryos, but that its level varies with the different developmental stages. The activity was relatively low in mature oocytes. It increased after in vitro fertilization and then decreased gradually until the embryo reached the eight-cell stage. After the eight-cell stage, the telomerase activity increased again and reached its highest level in the blastocyst stage. This study provides insight regarding how telomerase activity and, possibly, the length of the telomere are reprogrammed during early embryo development.

Jie Xu and Xiangzhong Yang "Telomerase Activity in Bovine Embryos During Early Development," Biology of Reproduction 63(4), 1124-1128, (1 October 2000).
Received: 21 January 2000; Accepted: 19 May 2000; Published: 1 October 2000
developmental biology
oocyte development
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