Journal Article

The Plasticity of Human Telomeres Demonstrated by a Hypervariable Telomere Repeat Array That Is Located on Some Copies of 16p and 16q

Joanna Coleman, Duncan M. Baird and Nicola J. Royle

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 8, issue 9, pages 1637-1646
Published in print September 1999 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online September 1999 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/8.9.1637
The Plasticity of Human Telomeres Demonstrated by a Hypervariable Telomere Repeat Array That Is Located on Some Copies of 16p and 16q

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Human telomeres are composed of tandem arrays of TTAGGG repeats with many variant repeats at the proximal ends. Comparison of the interspersion of variant and TTAGGG repeats between alleles can be used to study telomere instability, but the difficulty in identifying chromosome-specific sequences close to the start of autosomal telomeres has hampered such investigations. A chromosome end, including a telomere and adjacent sequence, that is polymorphic for its presence or absence in unrelated individuals has been identified. The telomere-adjacent DNA shows strong homology (92–99%) to sequences, including two expressed sequence tags, that are usually located in subterminal regions of human chromosomes but not adjacent to telomeres. Since this chromosome end arose, it has relocated at least once. In Caucasians, it forms the telomere of ∼6% of 16q and 2% of 16p chromosome arms. The mechanism of relocation is unknown but must have involved the telomere-adjacent DNA rather than the telomere itself, as copies on 16p and 16q share the same telomere-adjacent sequence. The interspersion patterns of TTAGGG with TGAGGG, TTGGGG and non-amplifying repeat sequences revealed extensive allelic variation, such that 47 different alleles were observed among the 50 alleles mapped. Closely related alleles differ by small changes in copy number at blocks of adjacent like repeats, as seen at the Xp/Yp pseudoautosomal telomere. Such differences are compatible with a model in which the majority of mutations arise by intra-allelic mechanisms, in individuals hemizygous for a single copy of the chromosome end.

Journal Article.  6548 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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