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Telomere DNA Sequences and the Concept of Ontogenetic Reserve Cells

D. M. Spitkovsky1

1Research Center for Medical Genetics, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, ul. Moskvorech'e 1, Moscow, 115478 Russia; fax: (095) 324-0702.

Submitted July 17, 1997.
Dynamics of telomere sequences are considered in normal and immortalized cells. Immortalized cells are suggested to be derived mainly from a special subpopulation of ontogenetic reserve cells. Their epigenetic program consists of autoregeneration during external stimulus for genome reorganization and corresponding appearance of genetic variants of cells. It is suggested that cells surviving the crisis stage contain a special signal sequence integrated into telomere DNA. Its elimination during shortening of DNA telomere sequences in dividing ontogenetic reserve cells is a signal for the cooperative transition of chromatin into a new steady state that corresponds to the epigenotype of immortalized cells. Localization of telomere DNA sequences in intrachromosomal "hot points" reflects phylogenetic rearrangement of the genome.
KEY WORDS: telomere, telomere DNA, ontogenetic reserve cells, chromatin phenotype, cooperative transitions, DNA loops, nuclear matrix, epigenetic state, chromosomal "hot points".