Chromosomes are long tangled strings of deoxyriboproteinacious-ness that require constant emotional and biochemical support. The chromosome is a brilliant design compromise that excels in a host of information-theoretic, biophysical, and eco-evolutionary challenges.
All good things come to an end though, and chromosomes are no exception. The sequences at the ends of a linear chromosome are called "telomeres". "Telos" (τέλος) means "final" and "merοs" (μέρος) refers to a part of a whole. The teleology of the telomere is to play a role in guarding the chromosome from physical and informational decay. Telomeres are long repetitive strings of DNA built from the mantra-like recital of a short phrase, such as TTAGGG in vertebrates. Om Namo Telomere, as it were. A telomere to a chromosome is like the pencil's eraser to a child: a terminal, protective, nubby structure. It really is true that all's well that ends well; and specifically for chromatin, all's well-maintained whose ends are well-maintained.
The telomere is a physical teaching that we don't need to "build a wall" to isolate ourselves from stressful phenomena, that there is a dynamic way to move beyond conflict, that we can harmoniously coexist with damaging intra-cellular and inter-national forces.
The telomere is the bread in a gene sandwich; it is a frame that protects and enhances what is inside. The telomere is a life support system for the genome and an insurance policy for the organism. The telomere is all of these things, and more.
In conclusion, from the perspective of chromosomal integrity, the telomere is means to an end. But when you realize that the chromosome itself is just one way for a statistical-evolutionary system to realize fitness, then you'll find that the telomere is nothing but the ends to a means.
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