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EMBO J. 1995 Nov 1;14(21):5433-43.

Mechanisms underlying telomere repeat turnover, revealed by hypervariable variant repeat distribution patterns in the human Xp/Yp telomere.

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Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, UK.


Sequences immediately adjacent to the human Xp/Yp telomere exhibit a high frequency of base substitutional polymorphisms, together with almost complete linkage disequilibrium, to create only a few diverged haplotypes. This sequence divergence has been used to develop a PCR-based system for mapping the distribution of the telomere (TTAGGG) and variant repeats (TGAGGG and TCAGGG) at the proximal end of the telomere repeat array. The distribution of these repeats is extremely variable. Almost all Xp/Yp telomeres are different, indicating a high mutation rate. Some telomere maps associated with the same flanking haplotype show similarities, identifying subsets of telomeres that share a recent common ancestry. Mechanisms underlying the rapid turnover of repeats at the proximal end of the Xp/Yp telomere include intra-allelic processes, such as slippage during replication. Inter-allelic exchanges may occur occasionally, but telomerase activity probably plays only a minor role in the germline turnover of proximally located telomere and variant repeats.

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