Engineered telomeres in transgenic Xenopus laevis

Ryan D. Wuebbles, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Peter L. Jones, University of Massachusetts Medical School

At the time of publication, Peter Jones was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Abstract

The expanding roles of telomeres in epigenetic gene regulation, nuclear organization, and human disease have necessitated the establishment of model organisms in which to study telomere function under normal developmental conditions. We present an efficient system for generating numerous vertebrate animals containing engineered telomeres using a Xenopus laevis transgenesis technique. Our results indicate Xenopus zygotes efficiently recognize telomeric repeats at chromosome break points and form telomeric complexes thus generating a new telomere. The resulting transgenic animals progress through normal development and successfully metamorphose into froglets despite the chromosome breakage. Overall, this presents an efficient mechanism for generating engineered telomeres in a vertebrate system and provides an opportunity to investigate epigenetic aspects of telomere function during normal vertebrate development.