Parameters affecting telomere-mediated chromosomal truncation in Arabidopsis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Conversion of a double-strand break into a telomere is a dangerous, potentially lethal event. However, little is known about the mechanism and control of de novo telomere formation (DNTF). DNTF can be instigated by the insertion of a telomere repeat array (TRA) into the host genome, which seeds the formation of a new telomere, resulting in chromosome truncation. Such events are rare and concentrated at chromosome ends. Here, we introduce tetraploid Arabidopsis thaliana as a robust genetic model for DNTF. Transformation of a 2.6-kb TRA into tetraploid plants resulted in a DNTF efficiency of 56%, fivefold higher than in diploid plants and 50-fold higher than in human cells. DNTF events were recovered across the entire genome, indicating that genetic redundancy facilitates recovery of DNTF events. Although TRAs as short as 100 bp seeded new telomeres, these tracts were unstable unless they were extended above a 1-kb size threshold. Unexpectedly, DNTF efficiency increased in plants lacking telomerase, and DNTF rates were lower in plants null for Ku70 or Lig4, components of the nonhomologous end-joining repair pathway. We conclude that multiple competing pathways modulate DNTF, and that tetraploid Arabidopsis will be a powerful model for elucidating the molecular details of these processes.

published proceedings

  • Plant Cell

altmetric score

  • 4

author list (cited authors)

  • Nelson, A. D., Lamb, J. C., Kobrossly, P. S., & Shippen, D. E.

citation count

  • 38

complete list of authors

  • Nelson, Andrew D||Lamb, Jonathan C||Kobrossly, Pierre S||Shippen, Dorothy E

publication date

  • June 2011