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We have sequenced and compared DNA from the ends of three human chromosomes: 4p, 16p and 22q. In all cases the pro-terminal regions are subdivided by degenerate (TTAGGG)n repeats into distal and proximal sub-domains with entirely different patterns of homology to other chromosome ends. The distal regions contain numerous, short (<2 kb) segments of interrupted homology to many other human telomeric regions. The proximal regions show much longer (approximately 10-40 kb) uninterrupted homology to a few chromosome ends. A comparison of all yeast subtelomeric regions indicates that they too are subdivided by degenerate TTAGGG repeats into distal and proximal sub-domains with similarly different patterns of identity to other non-homologous chromosome ends. Sequence comparisons indicate that the distal and proximal sub-domains do not interact with each other and that they interact quite differently with the corresponding regions on other, non-homologous, chromosomes. These findings suggest that the degenerate TTAGGG repeats identify a previously unrecognized, evolutionarily conserved boundary between remarkably different subtelomeric domains.

Original publication




Journal article


Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date





1305 - 1313


Base Sequence, Chromosomes, Artificial, Yeast, Humans, Molecular Sequence Data, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Telomere