During a cell's lifespan, DNA break formation is a common event, associated with many processes, from replication to apoptosis. Most of DNA breaks are readily repaired, but some are meant to persist in time, such as the chromosome ends, protected by telomeres. Besides them, eukaryotic genomes comprise shorter stretches of interstitial telomeric repeats. We assumed that the latter may also be associated with the formation of DNA breaks meant to persist in time. In zebrafish and mouse embryos, cells containing numerous breakage foci were identified. These breaks were not associated with apoptosis or replication, nor did they seem to activate DNA damage response machinery. Unlike short-living, accidental sparse breaks, the ones we found seem to be closely associated, forming discrete break foci. A PCR-based method was developed, allowing specific amplification of DNA regions located between inverted telomeric repeats associated with breaks. The cloning and sequencing of such DNA fragments were found to denote some specificity in their distribution for different tissue types and development stages.
- DNA breaks
- interstitial telomeric repeats