Budding yeast Cdc13, Stn1, and Ten1 form the CST complex to protect telomeres from lethal DNA degradation. It remains unknown whether similar complexes are conserved in higher eukaryotes or not. Here we isolated mammalian STN1 and TEN1 homologs and CTC1 (conserved telomere maintenance component 1). The three proteins contain putative OB-fold domains and form a complex called CST, which binds to single-stranded DNA with high affinity in a sequence-independent manner. CST associates with a fraction of telomeres consistently during the cell cycle, in quiescent cells and Pot1-knockdown cells. It does not colocalize with replication foci in S phase. Significant increases in the abundance of single-stranded G-strand telomeric DNA were observed in Stn1-knockdown cells. We propose that CST is a replication protein A (RPA)-like complex that is not directly involved in conventional DNA replication at forks but plays a role in DNA metabolism frequently required by telomeres.
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