Replication Timing of Human Telomeres is Conserved during Immortalization and Influenced by Respective Subtelomeres.
Telomeres are specific structures that protect chromosome ends and act as a biological clock, preventing normal cells from replicating indefinitely. Mammalian telomeres are replicated throughout S-phase in a predetermined order. However, the mechanism of this regulation is still unknown. We wished to investigate this phenomenon under physiological conditions in a changing environment, such as the immortalization process to better understand the mechanism for its control. We thus examined the timing of human telomere replication in normal and SV40 immortalized cells, which are cytogenetically very similar to cancer cells. We found that the timing of telomere replication was globally conserved under different conditions during the immortalization process. The timing of telomere replication was conserved despite changes in telomere length due to endogenous telomerase reactivation, in duplicated homologous chromosomes, and in rearranged chromosomes. Importantly, translocated telomeres, possessing their initial subtelomere, retained the replication timing of their homolog, independently of the proportion of the translocated arm, even when the remaining flanking DNA is restricted to its subtelomere, the closest chromosome-specific sequences (inferior to 500 kb). Our observations support the notion that subtelomere regions strongly influence the replication timing of the associated telomere.
Digital object identifier (DOI): 10.1038/srep32510