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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification and characterization of bovine regulator of telomere length elongation helicase gene (RTEL): molecular cloning, expression distribution, splice variants and DNA methylation profile

Zhuo Du1, DingSheng Zhao12, YongHui Zhao13, ShaoHua Wang1, Yu Gao14 and Ning Li14*

Author Affiliations

1 State Key Laboratory for Agrobiotechnology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 10094, China

2 Institute of Space Medico-Engineering, Beijing, 100094, China

3 Faculty of life science, Liaoning University, Shenyang,110036, China

4 College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 10094, China

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BMC Molecular Biology 2007, 8:18  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-18

Published: 6 March 2007



The genetic basis of telomere length heterogeneity among mammalian species is still not well understood. Recently, a gene named regulator of telomere length elongation helicase (RTEL) was identified and predicted to be an essential participant in species-specific telomere length regulation in two murine species. To obtain broader insights into its structure and biological functions and to ascertain whether RTEL is also a candidate gene in the regulation of telomere length diversity in other mammalian species, data from other mammals may be helpful.


Here we report the cDNA cloning, genomic structure, chromosomal location, alternative splicing pattern, expression distribution and DNA methylation profile of the bovine homolog of RTEL. The longest transcript of bovine RTEL is 4440 nt, encompassing 24.8 kb of genomic sequence that was mapped to chromosome 13q2.2. It encodes a conserved helicase-like protein containing seven characterized helicase motifs in the first 750 aa and a PIP box in the C-terminus. Four splice variants were identified within the transcripts in both the coding and 5'-untranslated regions; Western blot revealed that the most abundant splice variant SV-1 was translated to a truncated isoform of RTEL. The different 5'UTRs imply alternative transcription start sites in the promoter; Bovine RTEL was transcribed at the blastocyst stage, and expression levels were highest in adult testis, liver and ovary. DNA methylation analysis of tissues that differed significantly in expression level indicated that relatively low DNA methylation is associated with higher expression.


In this study, we have identified and characterized a bovine RTEL homolog and obtained basic information about it, including gene structure, expression distribution, splice variants and profile of DNA methylation around two putative transcription start sites. These data may be helpful for further comparative and functional analysis of RTEL in mammals.