The red sea urchin, Strongylocentrotus franciscanus, can live in excess of 100 years while the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus has an estimated lifespan of only 3–4 years. In an effort to understand the molecular mechanism underlying the difference in their longevity we characterized telomere biology in these species of sea urchins. Telomerase activity was found throughout early stages of development in L. variegatus and is maintained in adult tissues of L. variegatus and S. franciscanus. Terminal restriction fragment analysis indicated a lack of age-associated telomere shortening. These data suggest that long- and short-lived sea urchins do not utilize telomerase repression as a mechanism to suppress neoplastic transformation.

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