Human telomeres contain at least three types of G-rich repeat distributed non-randomly

R C Allshire, M Dempster, N D Hastie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a combination of different oligonucleotides and restriction enzymes we have examined the gross organisation of repeats within the most distal region of human chromosomes. We demonstrate here that human telomeres do not contain a pure uniform 6 base pair repeat unit but that there are at least three types of repeat. These three types of repeat are present at the ends of most or all human chromosomes. The distribution of each type of repeat appears to be non-random. Each human telomere has a similar arrangement of these repeats relative to the ends of the chromosome. This could reflect differences in the functions that they perform, or might result from the mutation and correction processes occurring at human telomeres. The number of repeat units, the repeat types and arrangement differs at mouse telomeres. Analysing the change in length of the telomeric repeat region between an individuals blood and germline DNA reveals that this is due to variable amounts of the TTAGGG repeat and not the other repeat types. This organization of repeat units at human telomeres will only be confirmed upon the isolation and sequencing of full length (10-15 kb), intact human telomeres.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4611-27
Number of pages17
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 1989


  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Base Composition
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chromosomes, Human
  • Cold Temperature
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • Endodeoxyribonucleases
  • Guanine
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Plants
  • Plasmodium berghei
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Tetrahymena
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei


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