Remember Goldilocks and the three bears? There was a porridge and beds that were too cold and hard, then too soft and hot, but then there was juuust right.
Well, it turns out that telomeres in stem cells can be too short, too long, and that they should be juuust right as well. In this article, the scientist describe two proteins involved in this task by actively trimming telomeres.
I am grateful to Mike Fossel for introducing me to Alexey Olovnikov, who postulated a lengthening reverse transcriptase (something that makes DNA from RNA) even before the actual telomerase enzyme was described.
Olovnikov also postulated nuclear pores effecting gene transcription via ion fountains, which is an act of theoretical imagination that is notable. Read this article for what little we know about nuclear pores.
So what we believe from this new study is that telomere that are too short are bad, telomeres that are too long are trimmed, and that telomeres that are just right are best. In my own personal experience, the telomeres shortened (from apoptosis, I believe), then lengthened, and now are stable at a good length.
Read this blog for more information about trees that live 5,000 years and how extreme longevity isn’t associated with extremely long telomeres.