Early and late steps in telomere overhang processing in normal human cells: The position of the final RNA primer drives telomere shortening

Tracy T. Chow, Yong Zhao, Sabrina S. Mak, Jerry W. Shay, Woodring E. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations

Abstract

Telomere overhangs are essential for telomere end protection and telomerase extension, but how telomere overhangs are generated is unknown. Leading daughter strands synthesized by conventional semiconservation DNA replication are initially blunt, while lagging daughter strands are shorter by at least the size of the final RNA primer, which is thought to be located at extreme chromosome ends. We developed a variety of new approaches to define the steps in the processing of these overhangs. We show that the final lagging RNA primer is not terminal but is randomly positioned ~70-100 nucleotides from the ends and is not removed for more than an hour. This identifies an important intrinsic step in replicative aging. Telomeric termini are processed in two distinct phases. During the early phase, which occupies 1-2 h following replication of the duplex telomeric DNA, several steps occur on both leading and lagging daughters. Leading telomere processing remains incomplete until late S/G2, when the C-terminal nucleotide is specified-referred to as the late phase. These observations suggest the presence of previously unsuspected complexes and signaling events required for the replication of the ends of human chromosomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1178
Number of pages12
JournalGenes and Development
Volume26
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • DNA replication
  • Okazaki fragment RNA primer
  • Telomere overhangs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

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