Early replication of short telomeres in budding yeast

The maintenance of an appropriate number of telomere repeats by telomerase is essential for proper chromosome protection. The action of telomerase at the telomere terminus is regulated by opposing activities that either recruit/activate the enzyme at shorter telomeres or inhibit it at longer ones, thus achieving a stable average telomere length. To elucidate the mechanistic details of telomerase regulation we engineered specific chromosome ends in yeast so that a single telomere could be suddenly shortened and, as a consequence of its reduced length, elongated by telomerase. We show that shortened telomeres replicate early in S phase, unlike normal-length telomeres, due to the early firing of origins of DNA replication in subtelomeric regions. Early telomere replication correlates with increased telomere length and telomerase activity. These data reveal an epigenetic effect of telomere length on the activity of nearby replication origins and an unanticipated link between telomere replication timing and telomerase action.

Via PubMed