I'm Dr. Jess Buxton,
I'm a geneticist at University College London.
This talk is on the role of "Telomeres and Cardiovascular Disease".
I'll start with an outline of what telomeres are,
and the role of the enzyme telomerase in telomere function before
covering telomeres and their role in monogenic disease and their role in
normal aging and then the rest of the talk will focus on the role of telomeres and in
particular telomere length and its role in risk of cardiovascular disease.
So, what are telomeres? Well,
they're the protective caps found at the ends of all linear chromosomes,
in this picture here they've been stained with a fluorescent dye.
So, telomeres are composed of repetitive sequences of DNA,
these are all G rich but are different in different species.
In jellyfish it's TTAGGG and that
also happens to be the same as all vertebrates including humans,
but it's not just one copy of this repeat unit it's
many thousands and it's there to act as a buffer to protect the coding sequences.
Every time a cell divides,
it will lose a little bit of the DNA from the ends of
all its chromosomes because of the way DNA is replicated.
The cell's DNA replication machinery can't
quite copy to the end of one half of the double helix strand,
so a little bit is lost,
this is known as the end replication problem.
So, to prevent this eroding the coding sequences,
the genes and regulatory sequences,
the telomeric DNA is there and acts as a buffer so
that is lost rather than the coding sequences in the rest of the chromosome.