Friday, February 29, 2008

Informal Blog on Telos

Telos was discussed in classes as being the greek word for end. Meaning both a means to an end and termination. What interests me about this word is another instance in biology where telos is used.

At the end of each of our chromosomes we have a structure called a telomere. A telomere is a repeated sequence of non-coding nucleic acids. Every time that DNA is replicated before cells divide a small sequence of DNA cannot be copied. So with every replication of the DNA the chromosome becomes increasingly shorter. Eventual the chromosome will use up all of the non-coding telomere and start removing coding sequences. Whenever this happens protein mutations start to occur and eventual cell death. It is theorized that aging may be related to the effect of using up the telomere. The telomere acts as a means of an end to when DNA can be safely replicated.

One other instance of telos in biology closely related to the telomere is telomerase. Telomerase is an enzyme that repairs the telomere. So what effect does this have on the cell? If a cell can go on replicating indefinitely and a mutation occurs in this cell, large problems can arise. Cancer cells contain telomerases allowing them to replicate quickly and indefinitely, reeking havoc on the body.

I may be possible to guess that Haraway had these ideas in mind as well if she has a PhD. in biology.


Adam Johns said...

Great post. I've heard the terms, but I've never thought of them in relationship with Haraway before - thanks for the insight.

erika mcclintock said...

That's what great about taking a class with folks who are interested in a variety of topics and majors. Thanks, your post was really interesting!

Noa said...

I find that to be really interesting. It would make sense if that's how she came up with the term, since she has a PhD in biology, and the two words have the same root.