The phylogenetic relationships between ciliate species in the suborder Tetrahymenina, order Hymenostomata, was investigated by comparing their telomerase RNA (TER) sequences. This relatively small RNA is an integral part of telomerase, the ribonucleoprotein enzyme that catalyses the synthesis of telomeric DNA. Despite a relatively rapid rate of primary sequence divergence, conserved functional and structural elements within TERs facilitate the accurate alignment of truly homologous nucleotides. The tetrahymenine phylogeny derived from distance analysis of TER sequences is largely consistent with those based on rRNA and histone sequences.


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