Telomeres are nucleoprotein complexes at the ends of chromosomes and are indispensable for the protection and lengthening of terminal DNA. Despite the evolutionarily conserved roles of telomeres, the telomeric double-strand DNA (dsDNA)-binding proteins have evolved rapidly. Here, we identified double-strand telomeric DNA-binding proteins (DTN-1 and DTN-2) in Caenorhabditis elegans as non-canonical telomeric dsDNA-binding proteins. DTN-1 and DTN-2 are paralogous proteins that have three putative MYB-like DNA-binding domains and bind to telomeric dsDNA in a sequence-specific manner. DTN-1 and DTN-2 form complexes with the single-strand telomeric DNA-binding proteins POT-1 and POT-2 and constitutively localize to telomeres. The dtn-1 and dtn-2 genes function redundantly, and their simultaneous deletion results in progressive germline mortality, which accompanies telomere hyper-elongation and chromosomal bridges. Our study suggests that DTN-1 and DTN-2 are core shelterin components in C. elegans telomeres that act as negative regulators of telomere length and are essential for germline immortality.
Keywords: C. elegans; DTN-1; POT-1; POT-2; cell biology; chromosomes; dyn-2; gene expression; shelterin; telomere.
© 2021, Yamamoto et al.