Telomeres cap the ends of linear chromosomes and terminate in a single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) overhang recognized by POT1-TPP1 heterodimers to help regulate telomere length homeostasis. Here hydroxyl radical footprinting coupled with mass spectrometry was employed to probe protein-protein interactions and conformational changes involved in the assembly of telomere ssDNA substrates of differing lengths bound by POT1-TPP1 heterodimers. Our data identified environmental changes surrounding residue histidine 266 of POT1 that were dependent on telomere ssDNA substrate length. We further determined that the chronic lymphocytic leukemia-associated H266L substitution significantly reduced POT1-TPP1 binding to short ssDNA substrates; however, it only moderately impaired the heterodimer binding to long ssDNA substrates containing multiple protein binding sites. Additionally, we identified a telomerase inhibitory role when several native POT1-TPP1 proteins coat physiologically relevant lengths of telomere ssDNA. This POT1-TPP1 complex-mediated inhibition of telomerase is abrogated in the context of the POT1 H266L mutation, which leads to telomere overextension in a malignant cellular environment.
Keywords: chronic lymphocytic leukemia; footprinting; hydroxyl radical; shelterin.
Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.