EMBO J.: co-auth.: M.Quadroni

EMBO J.  2020 Oct 19;e104500. doi: 10.15252/embj.2020104500. Online ahead of print.

Human shelterin protein POT1 prevents severe telomere instability induced by homology-directed DNA repair

Galina Glousker 1Anna-Sophia Briod 1Manfredo Quadroni 2Joachim Lingner 1


The evolutionarily conserved POT1 protein binds single-stranded G-rich telomeric DNA and has been implicated in contributing to telomeric DNA maintenance and the suppression of DNA damage checkpoint signaling. Here, we explore human POT1 function through genetics and proteomics, discovering that a complete absence of POT1 leads to severe telomere maintenance defects that had not been anticipated from previous depletion studies in human cells. Conditional deletion of POT1 in HEK293E cells gives rise to rapid telomere elongation and length heterogeneity, branched telomeric DNA structures, telomeric R-loops, and telomere fragility. We determine the telomeric proteome upon POT1-loss, implementing an improved telomeric chromatin isolation protocol. We identify a large set of proteins involved in nucleic acid metabolism that engage with telomeres upon POT1-loss. Inactivation of the homology-directed repair machinery suppresses POT1-loss-mediated telomeric DNA defects. Our results unravel as major function of human POT1 the suppression of telomere instability induced by homology-directed repair.