The signature of the Cestrum genome suggests an evolutionary response to the loss of (TTTAGGG)(n) telomeres
The genus Cestrum in the Solanaceae family is unusual in lacking Arabidopsis-type telomeres (TTTAGGG)(n), although short interstitial telomeric sequences (ITSs) occur scattered throughout the genome in both orientations. To isolate candidate telomeric sequences in Cestrum we assumed that some of the ITSs were residues of the original telomeres and that they may still be located in the vicinity of present-day telomeres. Three sequence types associated with ITSs were cloned and characterized; these were termed NA3G, BR23 and A/T-rich minisatellite. These high copy number sequences are dispersed across the genome and clustered at a number of chromosomal loci. Their association with ITSs, which can act as recombination hotspots, might indicate past recombination and chromosomal fusion events, processes that may have contributed to the large size of Cestrum chromosomes. The sequences are frequently arranged as NA3G-ITS-BR23 blocks embedded in an A/T-rich minisatellite array. The A/T-rich minisatellite is of particular interest because the consensus 5'-T(4-5)AGCAG-3' might be a derivative of "typical" eukaryotic telomeric sequence motifs. The sequence is abundant at the end of some chromosomes in C. parqui and is found not only in Cestrum but also in the closely related genera Sessea and Vestia, which also lack Arabidopsis-type telomeric sequences. However, the sequence is absent from the Solanaceae genera investigated that are outside the group, including the closely related genus Streptosolen, which all have the Arabidopsis-type telomere. The data indicate that the A/T rich minisatellite might have evolved in response to the loss of Arabidopsis-type telomeres.