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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Sep 28;96(20):11434-9.

Position effect of human telomeric repeats on replication timing.

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  • 1Department of Nephrology, Rambam Medical Center Haifa 31096, Israel.


Telomeres are distinct structures, composed of short, repeated sequences, at the ends of all eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomeres have been shown in yeast to induce late replication in S phase and to silence transcription of neighboring genes. To examine the possibility of similar effects in human chromosomes, we studied cells from a subject with a microdeletion of 130 kb at the end of one copy of chromosome arm 22q, repaired by the addition of telomere repeats. Using fluorescence in situ hybridization of S phase nuclei, a distinct difference was found in the replication timing of the breakpoint region between the intact and truncated copies of chromosome 22. This difference was evident as a shift from middle to late replication time of the breakpoint region adjacent to the repaired telomere. This finding suggests that the human telomere sequence influences activation of adjacent replication origin(s). The difference in replication timing between the two chromosomes was not associated with differences in sensitivity to digestion by DNase I or with methylation of regions immediately adjacent to the breakpoint. Furthermore, both alleles of arylsulfatase A, a gene located at a distance of approximately 54 kb from the breakpoint, were expressed. We conclude that as in yeast, the proximity of telomeric DNA may induce a positional effect that delays the replication of adjacent chromosomal regions in humans.

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