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Telomeres in Evolution and Development from Biosemiotic Perspective

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Meeting 2007

Telomeres identify natural chromosome ends being different from broken DNA through differences in their "molecular syntax" (M.Eigen) which determines the functions of reverse transcriptase and its integrated RNA template, telomerase. Although telomeres play a crucial role in the linear chromosome organisation of eukaryotic cells, their molecular syntax descended from an ancient retroviral competence. This is an indicator for the early retroviral colonization of large double stranded DNA viruses, which are putative ancestors of the eukaryotic nucleus.
This talk will demonstrate certain advantages of the biosemiotic approach towards our evolutionary understanding of telomeres: focus on the genetic/genomic structures as language-like text which follows combinatorial (syntactic), context-sensitive (pragmatic) and content-specific (semantic) semiotic rules. Genetic/genomic organisation from the biosemiotic perspective is not seen any longer as an object of randomly derived alterations (mutations) but as functional innovation coherent with the broad variety of natural genome editing competences of viruses.