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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 925121, 7 pages
Review Article

Telomere Length Reprogramming in Embryos and Stem Cells

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University Langone Medical Center, 180 Varick Street, No. 761, New York, NY 10014, USA
2College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, China

Received 9 November 2013; Accepted 15 January 2014; Published 27 February 2014

Academic Editor: Xu-Dong Zhu

Copyright © 2014 Keri Kalmbach et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Telomeres protect and cap linear chromosome ends, yet these genomic buffers erode over an organism’s lifespan. Short telomeres have been associated with many age-related conditions in humans, and genetic mutations resulting in short telomeres in humans manifest as syndromes of precocious aging. In women, telomere length limits a fertilized egg’s capacity to develop into a healthy embryo. Thus, telomere length must be reset with each subsequent generation. Although telomerase is purportedly responsible for restoring telomere DNA, recent studies have elucidated the role of alternative telomeres lengthening mechanisms in the reprogramming of early embryos and stem cells, which we review here.