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      The RNA component of telomerase is mutated in autosomal dominant dyskeratosis congenita.

      Nature

      Telomere, Cell Line, genetics, Telomerase, RNA, Point Mutation, Pedigree, Mutation, Male, Humans, Genetic Linkage, Genes, Dominant, Female, Dyskeratosis Congenita, DNA Mutational Analysis, Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3, Chromosome Mapping

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          Abstract

          Dyskeratosis congenita is a progressive bone-marrow failure syndrome that is characterized by abnormal skin pigmentation, leukoplakia and nail dystrophy. X-linked, autosomal recessive and autosomal dominant inheritance have been found in different pedigrees. The X-linked form of the disease is due to mutations in the gene DKC1 in band 2, sub-band 8 of the long arm of the X chromosome (ref. 3). The affected protein, dyskerin, is a nucleolar protein that is found associated with the H/ACA class of small nucleolar RNAs and is involved in pseudo-uridylation of specific residues of ribosomal RNA. Dyskerin is also associated with telomerase RNA (hTR), which contains a H/ACA consensus sequence. Here we map the gene responsible for dyskeratosis congenita in a large pedigree with autosomal dominant inheritance. Affected members of this family have an 821-base-pair deletion on chromosome 3q that removes the 3' 74 bases of hTR. Mutations in hTR were found in two other families with autosomal dominant dyskeratosis congenita.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Telomere shortening and tumor formation by mouse cells lacking telomerase RNA.

          To examine the role of telomerase in normal and neoplastic growth, the telomerase RNA component (mTR) was deleted from the mouse germline. mTR-/- mice lacked detectable telomerase activity yet were viable for the six generations analyzed. Telomerase-deficient cells could be immortalized in culture, transformed by viral oncogenes, and generated tumors in nude mice following transformation. Telomeres were shown to shorten at a rate of 4.8+/-2.4 kb per mTR-/- generation. Cells from the fourth mTR-/- generation onward possessed chromosome ends lacking detectable telomere repeats, aneuploidy, and chromosomal abnormalities, including end-to-end fusions. These results indicate that telomerase is essential for telomere length maintenance but is not required for establishment of cell lines, oncogenic transformation, or tumor formation in mice.
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            Longevity, stress response, and cancer in aging telomerase-deficient mice.

            Telomere maintenance is thought to play a role in signaling cellular senescence; however, a link with organismal aging processes has not been established. The telomerase null mouse provides an opportunity to understand the effects associated with critical telomere shortening at the organismal level. We studied a variety of physiological processes in an aging cohort of mTR-/- mice. Loss of telomere function did not elicit a full spectrum of classical pathophysiological symptoms of aging. However, age-dependent telomere shortening and accompanying genetic instability were associated with shortened life span as well as a reduced capacity to respond to stresses such as wound healing and hematopoietic ablation. In addition, we found an increased incidence of spontaneous malignancies. These findings demonstrate a critical role for telomere length in the overall fitness, reserve, and well being of the aging organism.
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              Essential role of mouse telomerase in highly proliferative organs.

              We have investigated the role of the enzyme telomerase in highly proliferative organs in successive generations of mice lacking telomerase RNA. Late-generation animals exhibited defective spermatogenesis, with increased programmed cell death (apoptosis) and decreased proliferation in the testis. The proliferative capacity of haematopoietic cells in the bone marrow and spleen was also compromised. These progressively adverse effects coincided with substantial erosion of telomeres (the termini of eukaryotic chromosomes) and fusion and loss of chromosomes. These findings indicate an essential role for telomerase, and hence telomeres, in the maintenance of genomic integrity and in the long-term viability of high-renewal organ systems.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.1038/35096585
                11574891

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