We isolated mutants of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that lose a 100 kb linear yeast artificial chromosome (YAC) at elevated rates. Mutations in two of these LCS (linear chromosome stability) genes had little or no effect on the loss rate of a circular YAC that had the same centromere and origin of replication as present on the linear YAC. Moreover, mutations in these LCS genes also increased the loss rate of an authentic linear yeast chromosome, chromosome III, but had only small effects on the loss rate of a circular derivative of chromosome III. As these mutants preferentially destabilize linear chromosomes, they may affect chromosome stability through interactions at telomeres. Telomeres are thought to be essential for the protection and complete replication of chromosome ends. The cytological properties of telomeres suggest that these structures may play additional roles in chromosome function. The lengths of the terminal C1-3A repeats at the ends of yeast chromosomes were unaltered in the linear preferential lcs mutants, suggesting that these mutants do not affect the replication or protection of telomeric DNA. Thus, the linear-preferential lcs mutants may identify a role for telomeres in chromosome stability that is distinct from their function in the replication and protection of chromosomal termini.
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