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Mol Cell. 2001 Apr;7(4):695-704.

Short telomeres in yeast are highly recombinogenic.

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Department of Genetics, Life Sciences Building, C318, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.


We report that recombination rates specifically increase by up to 10(3) near shortened telomeres in K. lactis cells. This occurs in cells lacking telomerase that undergo growth senescence as well as in cells with stably shortened telomeres that cause little effect on cell growth. The high rates of gene conversion allowed a subtelomeric marker, initially present at a single telomere, to efficiently spread to most or all other telomeres in the cell. We propose that short telomeres in K. lactis are not fully competent at capping chromosome ends and hence are occasionally processed by proteins that normally act to repair broken DNA ends through recombination. This helps explain how recombination can be frequent enough to permit maintenance of telomeres in yeast cells lacking telomerase.

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