García-Castillo J, Alcaraz-Pérez F, Martínez-Balsalobre E, García-Moreno D, Rossmann MP, Fernández-Lajarín M, Bernabé-García M, Pérez-Oliva AB, Rodríguez-Cortez VC, Bueno C, Adatto I, Agarwal S, Menéndez P, Zon LI, Mulero V, Cayuela ML. 2021. Telomerase RNA recruits RNA polymerase II to target gene promoters to enhance myelopoiesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 118(32). Pubmed: 34353901 DOI:10.1073/pnas.2015528118


Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a rare inherited bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition syndrome caused by mutations in telomerase or telomeric proteins. Here, we report that zebrafish telomerase RNA () binds to specific DNA sequences of master myeloid genes and controls their expression by recruiting RNA Polymerase II (Pol II). Zebrafish harboring the CR4-CR5 domain mutation found in DC patients hardly interacted with Pol II and failed to regulate myeloid gene expression in vivo and to increase their transcription rates in vitro. Similarly, regulated myeloid gene expression and Pol II promoter occupancy in human myeloid progenitor cells. Strikingly, induced pluripotent stem cells derived from DC patients with a mutation in the CR4-CR5 domain showed impaired myelopoiesis, while those with mutated telomerase catalytic subunit differentiated normally. Our findings show that acts as a transcription factor, revealing a target for therapeutic intervention in DC patients.

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The Zon laboratory aims to dissect how assaults to the hematopoietic system cause severe diseases such as leukemias, lymphomas, and anemias. They investigate hematopoietic development and disease using chemical screens, genetic screens, and analysis of novel transgenic lines in zebrafish.

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