Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), a catalytic subunit of telomerase, plays a key role in the activity and biological functions of telomerase. In the present study we isolated and characterized the full-length cDNA and DNA sequences of the TERT gene (MeTERT) from Metapenaeus ensis. MeTERT cDNA was 4239 bp in length, which consisted of a 369 bp 5′UTR, a 3231 bp open reading frame encoding 1076 amino acids, and a 639 bp 3′UTR. The genomic DNA of MeTERT had only two introns, similar to beetle (two introns) and silkworm (intronless). The MeTERT protein showed only 5.2–7.9% identity with other known TERTs but contained all the four primary TERT domains of the N-terminal TEN, RNA binding domain (TRBD), reverse transcriptase (RT) and C-terminus CTE. Expression pattern analysis by RT-qPCR showed that, the MeTERT mRNA transcripts could be detected in all the tested samples, with relatively higher expression level in the gill, mysis, Oka organ and egg, but lower level in muscle, ovary, in vitro cultured 3-d Oka organ cells and heart. The significant decrease of MeTERT expression in the in vitro cultured 3-d Oka organ primary cells compared with their source tissue of Oka organ may have contributed to the cellular mitosisarrest. Thus trans-activation of TERT gene may be a candidate in attempts to immortalize in vitro cultured shrimp cells. This work will lay a solid foundation for future studies of the biological functions of telomerase in crustaceans.
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Vol. 34 • No. 5