Research Article

Determinants of telomere length across human tissues

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Science  11 Sep 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6509, eaaz6876
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz6876

Telomere length within individuals

Telomeres are DNA-protein complexes that protect chromosome ends. Their length is of great interest because short telomeres are associated with specific diseases and with aging. Demanelis et al. measured telomere length from 952 Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project donors across tissues, of which 24 tissue types have measurements for more than 25 samples. This dataset shows that telomere length is not constant but is correlated across tissues. Most tissue telomeres shorten with age, but some, such as those in the testis and cerebellum, do not. In African Americans, telomeres are longer on average than those from individuals of primarily European descent across many tissue types. This observation is consistent with variability being passed from germ cells to zygote to differentiated cells during development.

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