Modification of subtelomeric DNA

Susanne Steinert, Jerry W. Shay, Woodring E. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


There is a discrepancy in telomere length as measured by signal intensity of telomere restriction fragments on gels and fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis. This difference has been ascribed to the X-region, a segment of subtelomeric DNA that is resistant to being cut by restriction enzymes. To explore the nature of this region, we analyzed the digestibility of an artificial seeded telomere in HeLa cells as well as the Xp/Yp autosomal telomere in human BJ fibroblasts. We found that there is a substantial fraction of subtelomeric DNA containing restriction sites that is not digested with enzymes such as EcoRI, NIaIII, and SphI. Comparison of methylation-sensitive and -resistant enzymes excluded the possibility of the X-region being maintained by DNA methylation. We show that the X-region represents a variable domain whose size changes with telomere length, and neither non-TTAGGG sequences nor cytidine methylation can adequately explain the size of the X-region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4571-4580
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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