The telomere binding proteins TRF1 and TRF2 maintain and protect chromosome ends and confer karyotypic stability. Chromosome evolution in the genus Muntiacus is characterized by numerous tandem (end-to-end) fusions. To study TRF1 and TRF2 telomere binding proteins in Muntiacus species, the authors isolated and characterized the TERF1 and -2 genes from Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak vaginalis; 2n = 6 female) and from Chinese muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi; 2n = 46). Expression anal. revealed that both genes are ubiquitously expressed and sequence anal. identified several transcript variants of both TERF genes. Control expts. disclosed a novel testis-specific splice variant of TERF1 in human testes. Amino acid sequence comparisons demonstrate that Muntiacus TRF1 and in particular TRF2 are highly conserved between muntjac and human. In vivo TRF2-GFP and immunostaining studies in muntjac cell lines revealed telomeric TRF2 localization, while deletion of the DNA binding domain abrogated this localization, suggesting muntjac TRF2 represents a functional telomere protein. Finally, expression anal. of a set of telomere-related genes revealed their presence in muntjac fibroblasts and testis tissue, which suggests the presence of a conserved telomere complex in muntjacs. However, a deviation from the common theme was noted for the TERT gene, encoding the catalytic subunit of telomerase; TERT expression could not be detected in Indian or Chinese muntjac cDNA or genomic DNA using a series of conserved primers, while TRAP assay revealed functional telomerase in Chinese muntjac testis tissues. This suggests muntjacs may harbor a diverged telomerase sequence.