Eukaryotic chromosomal ends are protected by telomeres, which are thought to play an important role in ensuring the complete replication of chromosomes. On the other hand, non-functional telomere-like repeats in the interchromosomal regions (interstitial telomeric repeats; ITRs) have been reported in several eukaryotes. In this study, we identified eight ITRs in the Arabidopsis thaliana genome, each consisting of complete and degenerate 300- to 1200-bp sequences. The ITRs were grouped into three classes (class IA-B, class II, and class IIIA-E) based on the degeneracy of the telomeric repeats in ITRs. The telomeric repeats of the two ITRs in class I were conserved for the most part, whereas the single ITR in class II, and the five ITRs in class III were relatively degenerated. In addition, degenerate ITRs were surrounded by common sequences that shared 70-100% homology to each other; these are named ITR-adjacent sequences (IAS). Although the genomic regions around ITRs in class I lacked IAS, those around ITRs in class II contained IAS (IASa), and those around five ITRs in class III had nine types of IAS (IASb, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, and j). Ten IAS types in classes II and III showed no significant homology to each other. The chromosomal locations of ITRs and IAS were not category-related, but most of them were adjacent to, or part of, a centromere. These results show that the A. thaliana genome has undergone chromosomal rearrangements, such as end-fusions and segmental duplications.
2002 by The Genetics Society of Japan