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Extending the model of Arabidopsis telomere length and composition across Brassicaceae.

Authors: Andrew D L AD. Nelson, Evan S ES. Forsythe, Xiangchao X. Gan, Miltos M. Tsiantis, Mark A MA. Beilstein
Published: 06/24/2014, Chromosome research : an international journal on the molecular, supramolecular and evolutionary aspects of chromosome biology


Telomeres are repetitive TG-rich DNA elements essential for maintaining the stability of genomes and replicative capacity of cells in almost all eukaryotes. Most of what is known about telomeres in plants comes from the angiosperm Arabidopsis thaliana, which has become an important comparative model for telomere biology. Arabidopsis tolerates numerous insults to its genome, many of which are catastrophic or lethal in other eukaryotic systems such as yeast and vertebrates. Despite the importance of Arabidopsis in establishing a model for the structure and regulation of plant telomeres, only a handful of studies have used this information to assay components of telomeres from across land plants, or even among the closest relatives of Arabidopsis in the plant family Brassicaceae. Here, we determined how well Arabidopsis represents Brassicaceae by comparing multiple aspects of telomere biology in species that represent major clades in the family tree. Specifically, we determined the telomeric repeat sequence, measured bulk telomere length, and analyzed variation in telomere length on syntenic chromosome arms. In addition, we used a phylogenetic approach to infer the evolutionary history of putative telomere-binding proteins, CTC1, STN1, TEN1 (CST), telomere repeat-binding factor like (TRFL), and single Myb histone (SMH). Our analyses revealed conservation of the telomeric DNA repeat sequence, but considerable variation in telomere length among the sampled species, even in comparisons of syntenic chromosome arms. We also found that the single-stranded and double-stranded telomeric DNA-binding complexes CST and TRFL, respectively, differ in their pattern of gene duplication and loss. The TRFL and SMH gene families have undergone numerous duplication events, and these duplicate copies are often retained in the genome. In contrast, CST components occur as single-copy genes in all sampled genomes, even in species that experienced recent whole genome duplication events. Taken together, our results place the Arabidopsis model in the context of other species in Brassicaceae, making the family the best characterized plant group in regard to telomere architecture.

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