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Mol Cell Biol. 2003 Dec;23(23):8450-61.

End resection initiates genomic instability in the absence of telomerase.

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Predoctoral Training Program in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Telomere dysfunction causes genomic instability. However, the mechanism that initiates this instability when telomeres become short is unclear. We measured the mutation rate and loss of heterozygosity along a chromosome arm in diploid yeast that lacked telomerase to distinguish between mechanisms for the initiation of instability. Sequence loss was localized near chromosome ends in the absence of telomerase but not after breakage of a dicentric chromosome. In the absence of telomerase, the increase in mutation rate is dependent on the exonuclease Exo1p. Thus, exonucleolytic end resection, rather than chromosome fusion and breakage, is the primary mechanism that initiates genomic instability when telomeres become short.

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