Background: Telomeres prevent the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes from being recognized as damaged DNA and protect against cancer and ageing. When telomere structure is perturbed, a co-ordinated series of events promote arrest of the cell cycle so that cells carrying damaged telomeres do not divide. In order to better understand the eukaryotic response to telomere damage, budding yeast strains harboring a temperature sensitive allele of an essential telomere capping gene (cdc13-1) were subjected to a transcriptomic study.
Results: The genome-wide response to uncapped telomeres in yeast cdc13-1 strains, which have telomere capping defects at temperatures above approximately 27 degrees C, was determined. Telomere uncapping in cdc13-1 strains is associated with the differential expression of over 600 transcripts. Transcripts affecting responses to DNA damage and diverse environmental stresses were statistically over-represented. BNA2, required for the biosynthesis of NAD+, is highly and significantly up-regulated upon telomere uncapping in cdc13-1 strains. We find that deletion of BNA2 and NPT1, which is also involved in NAD+ synthesis, suppresses the temperature sensitivity of cdc13-1 strains, indicating that NAD+ metabolism may be linked to telomere end protection.
Conclusions: Our data support the hypothesis that the response to telomere uncapping is related to, but distinct from, the response to non-telomeric double-strand breaks. The induction of environmental stress responses may be a conserved feature of the eukaryotic response to telomere damage. BNA2, which is involved in NAD+ synthesis, plays previously unidentified roles in the cellular response to telomere uncapping.