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Nucleic Acids Res. 1998 Sep 15;26(18):4230-40.

Conserved DNA sequences adjacent to chromosome fragmentation and telomere addition sites in Euplotes crassus.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.

Erratum in

  • Nucleic Acids Res 1999 Feb 15;27(4):following 1222.


During the formation of a new macronucleus in the ciliate Euplotes crassus, micronuclear chromosomes are reproducibly broken at approximately 10 000 sites. This chromosome fragmentation process is tightly coupled with de novo telomere synthesis by the telomerase ribonucleoprotein complex, generating short linear macronuclear DNA molecules. In this study, the sequences of 58 macronuclear DNA termini and eight regions of the micronuclear genome containing chromosome fragmentation/telomere addition sites were determined. Through a statistically based analysis of these data, along with previously published sequences, we have defined a 10 bp conserved sequence element (E-Cbs, 5'-HATTGAAaHH-3', H = A, C or T) near chromosome fragmentation sites. The E-Cbs typically resides within the DNA destined to form a macronuclear DNA molecule, but can also reside within flanking micronuclear DNA that is eliminated during macronuclear development. The location of the E-Cbs in macronuclear-destined versus flanking micronuclear DNA leads us to propose a model of chromosome fragmentation that involves a 6 bp staggered cut in the chromosome. The identification of adjacent macronuclear-destined sequences that overlap by 6 bp provides support for the model. Finally, our data provide evidence that telomerase is able to differentiate between newly generated ends that contain partial telomeric repeats and those that do not in vivo.

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