Gametes deficient for Pot1 telomere binding proteins alter levels of telomeric foci for multiple generations

Commun Biol. 2021 Feb 4;4(1):158. doi: 10.1038/s42003-020-01624-7.


Deficiency for telomerase results in transgenerational shortening of telomeres. However, telomeres have no known role in transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. C. elegans Protection Of Telomeres 1 (Pot1) proteins form foci at the telomeres of germ cells that disappear at fertilization and gradually accumulate during development. We find that gametes from mutants deficient for Pot1 proteins alter levels of telomeric foci for multiple generations. Gametes from pot-2 mutants give rise to progeny with abundant POT-1::mCherry and mNeonGreen::POT-2 foci throughout development, which persists for six generations. In contrast, gametes from pot-1 mutants or pot-1; pot-2 double mutants induce diminished Pot1 foci for several generations. Deficiency for MET-2, SET-25, or SET-32 methyltransferases, which promote heterochromatin formation, results in gametes that induce diminished Pot1 foci for several generations. We propose that C. elegans POT-1 may interact with H3K9 methyltransferases during pot-2 mutant gametogenesis to induce a persistent form of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance that causes constitutively high levels of heterochromatic Pot1 foci.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / embryology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / deficiency*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gametogenesis*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Germ Cells / metabolism*
  • Heredity
  • Histone Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Histone Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • POT-1 protein, C elegans
  • POT-2 protein, C elegans
  • Telomere-Binding Proteins
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • set-32 protein, C elegans
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Met-2 protein, C elegans
  • SET-25 protein, C elegans

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.mkkwh70xz