High-throughput single-molecule mapping links subtelomeric variants and long-range haplotypes with specific telomeres.
ABSTRACT: Accurate maps and DNA sequences for human subtelomere regions, along with detailed knowledge of subtelomere variation and long-range telomere-terminal haplotypes in individuals, are critical for understanding telomere function and its roles in human biology. Here, we use a highly automated whole genome mapping technology in nano-channel arrays to analyze large terminal human chromosome segments extending from chromosome-specific subtelomere sequences through subtelomeric repeat regions to terminal (TTAGGG)n repeat tracts. We establish detailed maps for subtelomere gap regions in the human reference sequence, detect many new large subtelomeric variants and demonstrate the feasibility of long-range haplotyping through segmentally duplicated subtelomere regions. These features make the method a uniquely valuable new tool for improving the quality of genome assemblies in complex DNA regions. Based on single molecule mapping of telomere-terminal DNA fragments, we provide proof of principle for a novel method to estimate telomere lengths linked to distinguishable telomeric haplotypes; this single-telomere genotyping method may ultimately enable delineation of human cis elements involved in telomere length regulation.
Project description:Detailed comprehensive knowledge of the structures of individual long-range telomere-terminal haplotypes are needed to understand their impact on telomere function, and to delineate the population structure and evolution of subtelomere regions. However, the abundance of large evolutionarily recent segmental duplications and high levels of large structural variations have complicated both the mapping and sequence characterization of human subtelomere regions. Here, we use high throughput optical mapping of large single DNA molecules in nanochannel arrays for 154 human genomes from 26 populations to present a comprehensive look at human subtelomere structure and variation. The results catalog many novel long-range subtelomere haplotypes and determine the frequencies and contexts of specific subtelomeric duplicons on each chromosome arm, helping to clarify the currently ambiguous nature of many specific subtelomere structures as represented in the current reference sequence (HG38). The organization and content of some duplicons in subtelomeres appear to show both chromosome arm and population-specific trends. Based upon these trends we estimate a timeline for the spread of these duplication blocks.
Project description:Human subtelomeric segmental duplications ('subtelomeric repeats') comprise about 25% of the most distal 500 kb and 80% of the most distal 100 kb in human DNA. A systematic analysis of the duplication substructure of human subtelomeric regions was done in order to develop a detailed understanding of subtelomeric sequence organization and a nucleotide sequence-level characterization of subtelomeric duplicon families.The extent of nucleotide sequence divergence within subtelomeric duplicon families varies considerably, as does the organization of duplicon blocks at subtelomere alleles. Subtelomeric internal (TTAGGG)n-like tracts occur at duplicon boundaries, suggesting their involvement in the generation of the complex sequence organization. Most duplicons have copies at both subtelomere and non-subtelomere locations, but a class of duplicon blocks is identified that are subtelomere-specific. In addition, a group of six subterminal duplicon families are identified that, together with six single-copy telomere-adjacent segments, include all of the (TTAGGG)n-adjacent sequence identified so far in the human genome.Identification of a class of duplicon blocks that is subtelomere-specific will facilitate high-resolution analysis of subtelomere repeat copy number variation as well as studies involving somatic subtelomere rearrangements. The significant levels of nucleotide sequence divergence within many duplicon families as well as the differential organization of duplicon blocks on subtelomere alleles may provide opportunities for allele-specific subtelomere marker development; this is especially true for subterminal regions, where divergence and organizational differences are the greatest. These subterminal sequence families comprise the immediate cis-elements for (TTAGGG)n tracts, and are prime candidates for subtelomeric sequences regulating telomere-specific (TTAGGG)n tract length in humans.
Project description:Mapping genome-wide data to human subtelomeres has been problematic due to the incomplete assembly and challenges of low-copy repetitive DNA elements. Here, we provide updated human subtelomere sequence assemblies that were extended by filling telomere-adjacent gaps using clone-based resources. A bioinformatic pipeline incorporating multiread mapping for annotation of the updated assemblies using short-read data sets was developed and implemented. Annotation of subtelomeric sequence features as well as mapping of CTCF and cohesin binding sites using ChIP-seq data sets from multiple human cell types confirmed that CTCF and cohesin bind within 3 kb of the start of terminal repeat tracts at many, but not all, subtelomeres. CTCF and cohesin co-occupancy were also enriched near internal telomere-like sequence (ITS) islands and the nonterminal boundaries of subtelomere repeat elements (SREs) in transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) and human embryonic stem cell (ES) lines, but were not significantly enriched in the primary fibroblast IMR90 cell line. Subtelomeric CTCF and cohesin sites predicted by ChIP-seq using our bioinformatics pipeline (but not predicted when only uniquely mapping reads were considered) were consistently validated by ChIP-qPCR. The colocalized CTCF and cohesin sites in SRE regions are candidates for mediating long-range chromatin interactions in the transcript-rich SRE region. A public browser for the integrated display of short-read sequence-based annotations relative to key subtelomere features such as the start of each terminal repeat tract, SRE identity and organization, and subtelomeric gene models was established.
Project description:We have developed a novel method that enables global subtelomere and haplotype-resolved analysis of telomere lengths at the single-molecule level. An in vitro CRISPR/Cas9 RNA-directed nickase system directs the specific labeling of human (TTAGGG)n DNA tracts in genomes that have also been barcoded using a separate nickase enzyme that recognizes a 7-bp motif genome-wide. High-throughput imaging and analysis of large DNA single molecules from genomes labeled in this fashion using a nanochannel array system permits mapping through subtelomere repeat element (SRE) regions to unique chromosomal DNA while simultaneously measuring the (TTAGGG)n tract length at the end of each large telomere-terminal DNA segment. The methodology also permits subtelomere and haplotype-resolved analyses of SRE organization and variation, providing a window into the population dynamics and potential functions of these complex and structurally variant telomere-adjacent DNA regions. At its current stage of development, the assay can be used to identify and characterize telomere length distributions of 30-35 discrete telomeres simultaneously and accurately. The assay's utility is demonstrated using early versus late passage and senescent human diploid fibroblasts, documenting the anticipated telomere attrition on a global telomere-by-telomere basis as well as identifying subtelomere-specific biases for critically short telomeres. Similarly, we present the first global single-telomere-resolved analyses of two cancer cell lines.
Project description:While telomere repeat-containing non-coding RNA has been identified in a variety of eukaryotes, its biological role is not yet clear. We have identified telomeric transcripts in fission yeast, a model system that combines precise genetic manipulability with telomeres remarkably similar to those of human. Like human and budding yeast, fission yeast harbours a population of telomeric RNA molecules containing G-rich telomeric repeats transcribed from the subtelomere to the telomere. In addition, we detect substantial levels of C-rich telomeric RNA whose appearance is independent of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, suggesting that the telomere repeats themselves serve as promoter sites; multiple distinct subtelomeric RNAs are also present. The regulation of these transcripts depends on the telomere-associated proteins Taz1 and Rap1, as deletion of taz1(+) or rap1(+) leads to increased levels of both telomere repeat-containing and subtelomeric transcripts. In contrast, loss of the heterochromatin proteins Swi6 or Clr4 or the telomerase regulator Rif1 results in elevated subtelomeric RNA levels while telomere-repeat containing transcript levels remain repressed. Coupled with the large body of knowledge surrounding the functions of telomeric and heterochromatin factors in fission yeast, these in vivo analyses suggest testable models for the roles of TERRA in telomere function.
Project description:BACKGROUND:DNA packaging into chromatin regulates all DNA-related processes and at chromosomal ends could affect both essential functions of telomeres: protection against DNA damage response and telomere replication. Despite this primordial role of chromatin, little is known about chromatin organization, and in particular about nucleosome positioning on unmodified subtelomere-telomere junctions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. RESULTS:By ChEC experiments and indirect end-labeling, we characterized nucleosome positioning as well as specialized protein-DNA associations on most subtelomere-telomere junctions present in budding yeast. The results show that there is a relatively large nucleosome-free region at chromosome ends. Despite the absence of sequence homologies between the two major classes of subtelomere-telomere junctions (i.e.: Y'-telomeres and X-telomeres), all analyzed subtelomere-telomere junctions show a terminal nucleosome-free region just distally from the known Rap1-covered telomeric repeats. Moreover, previous evidence suggested a telomeric chromatin fold-back structure onto subtelomeric areas that supposedly was implicated in chromosome end protection. The in vivo ChEC method used herein in conjunction with several proteins in a natural context revealed no evidence for such structures in bulk chromatin. CONCLUSIONS:Our study allows a structural definition of the chromatin found at chromosome ends in budding yeast. This definition, derived with direct in vivo approaches, includes a terminal area that is free of nucleosomes, certain positioned nucleosomes and conserved DNA-bound protein complexes. This organization of subtelomeric and telomeric areas however does not include a telomeric cis-loopback conformation. We propose that the observations on such fold-back structures may report rare and/or transient associations and not stable or constitutive structures.
Project description:Tumours and immortalized cells avoid telomere attrition by using either the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase or a recombination-based alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) mechanism. Available evidence from mice suggests that the epigenetic state of the telomere may influence the mechanism of telomere maintenance, but this has not been directly tested in human cancer. Here we investigated cytosine methylation directly adjacent to the telomere as a marker of the telomere's epigenetic state in a panel of human cell lines. We find that while ALT cells show highly heterogeneous patterns of subtelomeric methylation, subtelomeric regions in telomerase-positive cells invariably show denser methylation than normal cells, being almost completely methylated. When compared to matched normal and ALT cells, telomerase-positive cells also exhibit reduced levels of the telomeric repeat-containing-RNA (TERRA), whose transcription originates in the subtelomere. Our results are consistent with the notion that TERRA may inhibit telomerase: the heavy cytosine methylation we observe in telomerase-positive cells may reflect selection for TERRA silencing in order to facilitate telomerase activity at the telomere. These data suggest that the epigenetic differences between telomerase-positive and ALT cells may underlie the mechanism of telomere maintenance in human tumorigenesis and highlight the broad reaching consequences of epigenetic dysregulation in cancer.
Project description:Telomerase enables telomere length homeostasis, exhibiting increasing preference for telomeres as their lengths decline. This regulation involves telomere repeat-bound Rap1, which provides a length-dependent negative feedback mechanism, and the Tel1 and Mec1 kinases, which are positive regulators of telomere length. By analysing telomere elongation of wild-type chromosome ends at single-molecule resolution, we show that in tel1Delta cells the overall frequency of elongation decreases considerably, explaining their short telomere phenotype. At an artificial telomere lacking a subtelomeric region, telomere elongation no longer increases with telomere shortening in tel1Delta cells. By contrast, a natural telomere, containing subtelomeric sequence, retains a preference for the elongation of short telomeres. Tethering of the subtelomere binding protein Tbf1 to the artificial telomere in tel1Delta cells restored preferential telomerase action at short telomeres; thus, Tbf1 might function in parallel to Tel1, which has a crucial role in a TG-repeat-controlled pathway for the activation of telomerase at short telomeres.
Project description:Telomeric and subtelomeric regions of human chromosomes largely consist of highly repetitive and redundant DNA sequences, resulting in a paucity of unique DNA sequences specific to individual telomeres. Accordingly, it is difficult to analyze telomere metabolism on a single-telomere basis. To circumvent this problem, we have exploited a human artificial chromosome (HAC#21) derived from human chromosome 21 (hChr21). HAC#21 was generated through truncation of the long arm of native hChr21 by the targeted telomere seeding technique. The newly established telomere of HAC#21 lacks canonical subtelomere structures but possesses unique sequences derived from the target vector backbone and the internal region of hChr21 used for telomere targeting, which enabled us to molecularly characterize the single HAC telomere. We established HeLa and NIH-3T3 sub-lines containing a single copy of HAC#21, where it was robustly maintained. The seeded telomere is associated with telomeric proteins over a length similar to that reported in native telomeres, and is faithfully replicated in mid-S phase in HeLa cells. We found that the seeded telomere on HAC#21 is transcribed from the newly juxtaposed site. The transcript, HAC-telRNA, shares several features with TERRA (telomeric repeat-containing RNA): it is a short-lived RNA polymerase II transcript, rarely contains a poly(A) tail, and associates with chromatin. Interestingly, HAC-telRNA undergoes splicing. These results suggest that transcription into TERRA is locally influenced by the subtelomeric context. Taken together, we have established human and mouse cell lines that will be useful for analyzing the behavior of a uniquely identifiable, functional telomere.
Project description:Trypanosoma brucei causes human African trypanosomiasis and regularly switches its major surface antigen, VSG, thereby evading the host's immune response. VSGs are monoallelically expressed from subtelomeric expression sites (ESs), and VSG switching exploits subtelomere plasticity. However, subtelomere integrity is essential for T. brucei viability. The telomeric transcript, TERRA, was detected in T. brucei previously. We now show that the active ES-adjacent telomere is transcribed. We find that TbRAP1, a telomere protein essential for VSG silencing, suppresses VSG gene conversion-mediated switching. Importantly, TbRAP1 depletion increases the TERRA level, which appears to result from longer read-through into the telomere downstream of the active ES. Depletion of TbRAP1 also results in more telomeric RNA:DNA hybrids and more double strand breaks (DSBs) at telomeres and subtelomeres. In TbRAP1-depleted cells, expression of excessive TbRNaseH1, which cleaves the RNA strand of the RNA:DNA hybrid, brought telomeric RNA:DNA hybrids, telomeric/subtelomeric DSBs and VSG switching frequency back to WT levels. Therefore, TbRAP1-regulated appropriate levels of TERRA and telomeric RNA:DNA hybrid are fundamental to subtelomere/telomere integrity. Our study revealed for the first time an important role of a long, non-coding RNA in antigenic variation and demonstrated a link between telomeric silencing and subtelomere/telomere integrity through TbRAP1-regulated telomere transcription.