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On the Origin of the Eukaryotic Chromosome: The Role of Noncanonical DNA Structures in Telomere Evolution

Authors
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Volume
5
Issue
6
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evt079
Keywords
  • Invited Review
Disciplines
  • Biology

Abstract

The transition of an ancestral circular genome to multiple linear chromosomes was crucial for eukaryogenesis because it allowed rapid adaptive evolution through aneuploidy. Here, we propose that the ends of nascent linear chromosomes should have had a dual function in chromosome end protection (capping) and chromosome segregation to give rise to the “proto-telomeres.” Later on, proper centromeres evolved at subtelomeric regions. We also propose that both noncanonical structures based on guanine–guanine interactions and the end-protection proteins recruited by the emergent telomeric heterochromatin have been required for telomere maintenance through evolution. We further suggest that the origin of Drosophila telomeres may be reminiscent of how the first telomeres arose.

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