Alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) is a telomere lengthening pathway that predominates in aggressive tumors of mesenchymal origin; however, the underlying mechanism of telomere synthesis is not fully understood. Here, we show that the BLM-TOP3A-RMI (BTR) dissolvase complex is required for ALT-mediated telomere synthesis. We propose that recombination intermediates formed during strand invasion are processed by the BTR complex, initiating rapid and extensive POLD3-dependent telomere synthesis followed by dissolution, with no overall exchange of telomeric DNA. This process is counteracted by the SLX4-SLX1-ERCC4 complex, which promotes resolution of the recombination intermediate, resulting in telomere exchange in the absence of telomere extension. Our data are consistent with ALT being a conservative DNA replication process, analogous to break-induced replication, which is dependent on BTR and counteracted by SLX4 complex-mediated resolution events.
Keywords: ALT; BLM; SLX4; telomere recombination; telomere synthesis.
© 2017 Children's Medical Research Institute.