Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The model for telomere shortening at each replication cycle is currently incomplete, and the exact contribution of the telomeric 3' overhang to the shortening rate remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate key steps of the mechanism of telomere replication in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. By following the dynamics of telomeres during replication at near-nucleotide resolution, we find that the leading-strand synthesis generates blunt-end intermediates before being 5'-resected and filled in. Importantly, the shortening rate is set by positioning the last Okazaki fragments at the very ends of the chromosome. Thus, telomeres shorten in direct proportion to the 3' overhang lengths of 5-10 nucleotides that are present in parental templates. Furthermore, the telomeric protein Cdc13 coordinates leading- and lagging-strand syntheses. Taken together, our data unravel a precise choreography of telomere replication elucidating the DNA end-replication problem and provide a framework to understand the control of the cell proliferation potential.