Gene Summary

Gene:DKC1; dyskerin pseudouridine synthase 1
Aliases: DKC, CBF5, DKCX, NAP57, NOLA4, XAP101
Summary:This gene functions in two distinct complexes. It plays an active role in telomerase stabilization and maintenance, as well as recognition of snoRNAs containing H/ACA sequences which provides stability during biogenesis and assembly into H/ACA small nucleolar RNA ribonucleoproteins (snoRNPs). This gene is highly conserved and widely expressed, and may play additional roles in nucleo-cytoplasmic shuttling, DNA damage response, and cell adhesion. Mutations have been associated with X-linked dyskeratosis congenita. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants. [provided by RefSeq, Jan 2014]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:H/ACA ribonucleoprotein complex subunit DKC1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 29 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (16)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 29 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Base Sequence
  • Ribonucleoproteins, Small Nucleolar
  • p53 Protein
  • Transfection
  • Reference Standards
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Apoptosis
  • Tissue Banks
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Messenger RNA
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Translocation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Telomere Homeostasis
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Lung Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Promoter Regions
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • Cell Proliferation
  • siRNA
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Tumor Suppressor Gene
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Breast Cancer
  • Gene Silencing
  • Cancer RNA
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • X Chromosome
  • Mutation
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Young Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Telomere
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Skin Cancer
  • Telomerase
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita
Tag cloud generated 29 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: DKC1 (cancer-related)

Shay JW, Wright WE
Telomeres and telomerase: three decades of progress.
Nat Rev Genet. 2019; 20(5):299-309 [PubMed] Related Publications
Many recent advances have emerged in the telomere and telomerase fields. This Timeline article highlights the key advances that have expanded our views on the mechanistic underpinnings of telomeres and telomerase and their roles in ageing and disease. Three decades ago, the classic view was that telomeres protected the natural ends of linear chromosomes and that telomerase was a specific telomere-terminal transferase necessary for the replication of chromosome ends in single-celled organisms. While this concept is still correct, many diverse fields associated with telomeres and telomerase have substantially matured. These areas include the discovery of most of the key molecular components of telomerase, implications for limits to cellular replication, identification and characterization of human genetic disorders that result in premature telomere shortening, the concept that inhibiting telomerase might be a successful therapeutic strategy and roles for telomeres in regulating gene expression. We discuss progress in these areas and conclude with challenges and unanswered questions in the field.

Agarwal S
Evaluation and Management of Hematopoietic Failure in Dyskeratosis Congenita.
Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2018; 32(4):669-685 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a rare, inherited bone marrow failure (BMF) syndrome characterized by variable manifestations and ages of onset, and predisposition to cancer. DC is one of a spectrum of diseases caused by mutations in genes regulating telomere maintenance, collectively referred to as telomere biology disorders (TBDs). Hematologic disease is common in children with DC/TBD. Timely diagnosis of underlying TBD in patients with BMF affects treatment and has been facilitated by increased awareness and availability of diagnostic tests in recent years. This article summarizes the pathophysiology, evaluation, and management of hematopoietic failure in patients with DC and other TBDs.

Zhang M, Pan Y, Jiang R, et al.
DKC1 serves as a potential prognostic biomarker for human clear cell renal cell carcinoma and promotes its proliferation, migration and invasion via the NF‑κB pathway.
Oncol Rep. 2018; 40(2):968-978 [PubMed] Related Publications
DKC1, an X‑linked gene encoding dyskerin at Xq28, is a crucial component of the telomerase complex and is indispensable for normal telomere function and the post‑-transcriptional modification of precursor rRNA. It has been revealed to exert diverse biological functions and prognostic values in numerous types of cancers. Our present study was aimed at examining DKC1 expression in normal renal tissues and clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) samples and the prognostic value of DKC1 in ccRCC. We examined DKC1 protein expression levels in tissue microarrays including 307 cases of ccRCC tissues and in 75 pairs of ccRCC and paracancerous tissues with immunohistochemistry. The percentage of DKC1 expression in ccRCC (61.3%) was markedly higher than that in paracancerous tissues (34.7%) (P=0.001). Positive DKC1 expression tends to significantly be associated with unfavorable clinicopathological characteristics such as tumor diameter >7 cm (P=0.002) and tumor‑node‑metastasis (TNM) stage III or IV (P<0.001). Multivariate COX analysis revealed that positive DKC1 expression was an independent unfavorable factor for prognosis of ccRCC patients [hazard ratio (HR)=1.932, 95% CI, 1.290‑2.893, P=0.001 for 5‑year overall survival; HR=1.778, 95% CI,1.150‑2.748, P=0.010 for disease‑free survival]. In the PROGgeneV2 platform, we also found that ccRCC patients with high DKC1 mRNA expression had a poorer prognosis than patients with low DKC1 expression in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Furthermore, we found that knockdown of DKC1 inhibited proliferation, migration and invasion of ccRCC through regulation of the NF‑κB/MMP‑2 signaling pathway in vitro. We also demonstrated that DKC1 regulated ccRCC proliferation and the expression of NF‑κB‑p65 and MMP‑2 in vivo. In summary, the expression of DKC1 was upregulated in ccRCC, which was associated with unfavorable clinicopathological characteristics and DKC1 may act as an independent prognostic indicator of ccRCC patients.

Kirschner M, Maurer A, Wlodarski MW, et al.
Recurrent somatic mutations are rare in patients with cryptic dyskeratosis congenita.
Leukemia. 2018; 32(8):1762-1767 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dyskeratosis congenita (DKC) is a paradigmatic telomere disorder characterized by substantial and premature telomere shortening, bone marrow failure, and a dramatically increased risk of developing myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML). DKC can occur as a late-onset, so-called cryptic form, with first manifestation in adults. Somatic MDS-related mutations are found in up to 35% of patients with acquired aplastic anemia (AA), especially in patients with short telomeres. The aim of our study was to investigate whether cryptic DKC is associated with an increased incidence of MDS-related somatic mutations, thereby linking the accelerated telomere shortening with the increased risk of MDS/AML. Samples from 15 adult patients (median age: 42 years, range: 23-60 years) with molecularly confirmed cryptic DKC were screened using next-generation gene panel sequencing to detect MDS-related somatic variants. Only one of the 15 patients (7%) demonstrated a clinically relevant MDS-related somatic variant. This incidence was dramatically lower than formerly described in acquired AA. Based on our data, we conclude that clonal evolution of subclones carrying MDS-related mutations is not the predominant mechanism for MDS/AML initiation in adult cryptic DKC patients.

Ko E, Kim JS, Ju S, et al.
Oxidatively Modified Protein-Disulfide Isomerase-Associated 3 Promotes Dyskerin Pseudouridine Synthase 1-Mediated Malignancy and Survival of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells.
Hepatology. 2018; 68(5):1851-1864 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dyskerin pseudouridine synthase 1 (DKC1) is a conserved gene encoding the RNA-binding protein dyskerin, which is an essential component of the telomerase holoenzyme. DKC1 up-regulation is frequently observed in many different human cancers including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, its regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. Thus, we investigated the regulatory mechanism of DKC1 in HCC progression. We found that protein-disulfide isomerase-associated 3 (PDIA3) interacted with the DKC1 regulatory DNA in HCC cells but not in HCC cells with elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, using liquid chromatographic-tandem mass spectrometric analysis after isolating the DKC1 regulatory region binding proteins. PDIA3 repressed DKC1 expression in HCC cells by recognizing the G-quadruplex DNA at the DKC1 location. However, oxidative modification of PDIA3 induced by ROS redistributed this protein into the cytosolic regions, which stimulated DKC1 expression. We also identified Met338 in PDIA3 as the oxidatively modified residue and validated the effect of oxidative modification using an ectopic expression system, a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated 9 knock-in system, and a xenograft mouse model. We observed that oxidatively modified PDIA3 promoted DKC1-mediated malignancy and survival of HCC cells in vitro and in vivo. HCC tissues showed a positive association with ROS, cytoplasmic PDIA3, and nuclear DKC1 levels. HCC patients with high PDIA3 protein and DKC1 mRNA levels also displayed reduced recurrence-free survival rates. Cumulatively, the results showed that cytoplasmic PDIA3 activity could be essential in raising DKC1 expression in HCC progression and predicting poor prognoses in HCC patients. Conclusion: Our study indicates that the elevated ROS levels in HCC modulate cytoplasmic PDIA3 levels, resulting in HCC cell survival through DKC1 up-regulation.

Marsh JCW, Gutierrez-Rodrigues F, Cooper J, et al.
Blood Adv. 2018; 2(1):36-48 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Biallelic germline mutations in

Peene G, Smets E, Legius E, Cassiman C
Unilateral Coats'-like disease and an intragenic deletion in the TERC gene: A case report.
Ophthalmic Genet. 2018; 39(2):247-250 [PubMed] Related Publications
We report a case of a 25-year-old woman with unilateral Coats'-like disease. Her brother was previously diagnosed with an autosomal dominant form of dyskeratosis congenita. Genetic testing was performed by screening the TERC gene for mutations and identified heterozygosity for the n.68_124del mutation. Our case demonstrates that the exudative retinopathy seen in Coats'-like disease can be caused by mutations in a telomere-capping gene TERC as a part of the dyskeratosis congenita spectrum without other systemic involvement. This is an interesting case that illustrates that retinal Coats'-like involvement can be the first manifestation of dyskeratosis congenita.

Dos Santos PC, Panero J, Stanganelli C, et al.
Dysregulation of H/ACA ribonucleoprotein components in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
PLoS One. 2017; 12(6):e0179883 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Telomeres are protective repeats of TTAGGG sequences located at the end of human chromosomes. They are essential to maintain chromosomal integrity and genome stability. Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein complex containing an internal RNA template (hTR) and a catalytic subunit (hTERT). The human hTR gene consists of three major domains; among them the H/ACA domain is essential for telomere biogenesis. H/ACA ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex is composed of four evolutionary conserved proteins, including dyskerin (encoded by DKC1 gene), NOP10, NHP2 and GAR1. In this study, we have evaluated the expression profile of the H/ACA RNP complex genes: DKC1, NOP10, NHP2 and GAR1, as well as hTERT and hTR mRNA levels, in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Results were correlated with the number and type of genetic alteration detected by conventional cytogenetics and FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization), IGHV (immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region) mutational status, telomere length (TL) and clinico-pathological characteristics of patients. Our results showed significant decreased expression of GAR1, NOP10, DKC1 and hTR, as well as increased mRNA levels of hTERT in patients compared to controls (p≤0.04). A positive correlation between the expression of GAR1-NHP2, GAR1-NOP10, and NOP10-NHP2 (p<0.0001), were observed. The analysis taking into account prognostic factors showed a significant increased expression of hTERT gene in unmutated-IGHV cases compared to mutated-CLL patients (p = 0.0185). The comparisons among FISH groups exhibited increased expression of DKC1 in cases with two or more alterations with respect to no abnormalities, trisomy 12 and del13q14, and of NHP2 and NOP10 compared to those with del13q14 (p = 0.03). The analysis according to TL showed a significant increased expression of hTERT (p = 0.0074) and DKC1 (p = 0.0036) in patients with short telomeres compared to those with long TL. No association between gene expression and clinical parameters was found. Our results suggest a role for these telomere associated genes in genomic instability and telomere dysfunction in CLL.

Savage SA, Dufour C
Classical inherited bone marrow failure syndromes with high risk for myelodysplastic syndrome and acute myelogenous leukemia.
Semin Hematol. 2017; 54(2):105-114 [PubMed] Related Publications
The inherited marrow failure syndromes (IBMFS) are a heterogeneous group of diseases characterized by failure in the production of one or more blood lineage. The clinical manifestations of the IBMFS vary according to the type and number of blood cell lines involved, including different combinations of anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. In some IBMFS, systemic non-hematologic manifestations, including congenital malformations, mucocutaneous abnormalities, developmental delay, and other medical complications, may be present. Fanconi anemia (FA), caused by germline pathogenic variants in the DNA repair genes comprising the FA/BRCA pathway is associated with congenital anomalies, bone marrow failure, and increased risk of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), and solid tumors. Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a telomere biology disorder (TBD) caused by aberrations in key telomere biology genes. In addition to mucocutaneous manifestations, patients with DC are at increased risk of marrow failure, MDS, AML, pulmonary fibrosis, and other complications. Ribosomal biology defects are the primary causes of Diamond Blackfan anemia (DBA) and Shwachman Diamond syndrome (SDS). In addition to pure red blood cell aplasia, DBA is associated with elevated risk of solid tumors, AML, and MDS. Patients with SDS have pancreatic insufficiency, neutropenia, as well as MDS and AML risks. Patients with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN), caused by pathogenic variants in genes essential in myeloid development, have profound neutropenia and high risk of MDS and AML. Herein we review the genetic causes, clinical features, diagnostic modalities, predisposition to malignancies with focus on leukemogenic markers whenever available, and approaches to treatments of the classical IBMFS: FA, DC, SDS, DBA, and SCN.

Walsh MF, Chang VY, Kohlmann WK, et al.
Recommendations for Childhood Cancer Screening and Surveillance in DNA Repair Disorders.
Clin Cancer Res. 2017; 23(11):e23-e31 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
DNA repair syndromes are heterogeneous disorders caused by pathogenic variants in genes encoding proteins key in DNA replication and/or the cellular response to DNA damage. The majority of these syndromes are inherited in an autosomal-recessive manner, but autosomal-dominant and X-linked recessive disorders also exist. The clinical features of patients with DNA repair syndromes are highly varied and dependent on the underlying genetic cause. Notably, all patients have elevated risks of syndrome-associated cancers, and many of these cancers present in childhood. Although it is clear that the risk of cancer is increased, there are limited data defining the true incidence of cancer and almost no evidence-based approaches to cancer surveillance in patients with DNA repair disorders. This article is the product of the October 2016 AACR Childhood Cancer Predisposition Workshop, which brought together experts from around the world to discuss and develop cancer surveillance guidelines for children with cancer-prone disorders. Herein, we focus on the more common of the rare DNA repair disorders: ataxia telangiectasia, Bloom syndrome, Fanconi anemia, dyskeratosis congenita, Nijmegen breakage syndrome, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, and Xeroderma pigmentosum. Dedicated syndrome registries and a combination of basic science and clinical research have led to important insights into the underlying biology of these disorders. Given the rarity of these disorders, it is recommended that centralized centers of excellence be involved directly or through consultation in caring for patients with heritable DNA repair syndromes.

Çalışkan Can E, Atalay MC, Miser Salihoğlu E, et al.
Normal and Tumour Tissue mRNA Expressions of Telomerase Complex Genes in Several Types of Cancer.
Balkan Med J. 2017; 34(3):269-274 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
AIMS: To investigate the changes in mRNA expression levels of telomerase-related significant proteins in several types of cancer.
METHODS: Human telomerase reverse transcriptase, pontin, reptin and dyskerin expressions were measured in normal and tumour tissues obtained from 26 patients with colorectal, breast and gastric cancers, using the real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction method.
RESULTS: For all patients, no significant difference was found in mRNA expressions of human telomerase reverse transcriptase and dyskerin (p>0.05), although their levels in tumour tissues were found to be higher than in normal tissues. However, pontin and reptin mRNA expressions were significantly higher in tumour tissues than in normal tissues (p<0.01). While human telomerase reverse transcriptase showed a high correlation with only pontin (p<0.001) in normal tissues, high positive correlations were observed between human telomerase reverse transcriptase with pontin (p<0.005), reptin (p<0.01) and dyskerin (p<0.01) in tumour tissues.
CONCLUSION: The increased mRNA expressions of all four genes in tumour tissues may suggest a role in cancer development. Correlations of pontin, reptin and dyskerin with human telomerase reverse transcriptase support the hypotheses describing their roles in telomerase complexes.

Martínez P, Blasco MA
Telomere-driven diseases and telomere-targeting therapies.
J Cell Biol. 2017; 216(4):875-887 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Telomeres, the protective ends of linear chromosomes, shorten throughout an individual's lifetime. Telomere shortening is proposed to be a primary molecular cause of aging. Short telomeres block the proliferative capacity of stem cells, affecting their potential to regenerate tissues, and trigger the development of age-associated diseases. Mutations in telomere maintenance genes are associated with pathologies referred to as telomere syndromes, including Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome, dyskeratosis congenita, pulmonary fibrosis, aplastic anemia, and liver fibrosis. Telomere shortening induces chromosomal instability that, in the absence of functional tumor suppressor genes, can contribute to tumorigenesis. In addition, mutations in telomere length maintenance genes and in shelterin components, the protein complex that protects telomeres, have been found to be associated with different types of cancer. These observations have encouraged the development of therapeutic strategies to treat and prevent telomere-associated diseases, namely aging-related diseases, including cancer. Here we review the molecular mechanisms underlying telomere-driven diseases and highlight recent advances in the preclinical development of telomere-targeted therapies using mouse models.

Martins CS, Camargo RC, Saggioro FP, et al.
P27/CDKN1B Translational Regulators in Pituitary Tumorigenesis.
Horm Metab Res. 2016; 48(12):840-846 [PubMed] Related Publications
In pituitary tumors, P27(CDKN1B) is underexpressed. We aimed to clarify whether translational regulation underlies this phenomenon. This study evaluated the expression of

Kramer M, Ribeiro D, Arsenian-Henriksson M, et al.
Proliferation and Survival of Embryonic Sympathetic Neuroblasts by MYCN and Activated ALK Signaling.
J Neurosci. 2016; 36(40):10425-10439 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Neuroblastoma (NB) is a childhood tumor that arises from the sympathoadrenal lineage. MYCN amplification is the most reliable marker for poor prognosis and MYCN overexpression in embryonic mouse sympathetic ganglia results in NB-like tumors. MYCN cooperates with mutational activation of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), which promotes progression to NB, but the role of MYCN and ALK in tumorigenesis is still poorly understood. Here, we use chick sympathetic neuroblasts to examine the normal function of MYCN and MYC in the control of neuroblast proliferation, as well as effects of overexpression of MYCN, MYC, and activated ALK, alone and in combination. We demonstrate that MYC is more strongly expressed than MYCN during neurogenesis and is important for in vitro neuroblast proliferation. MYC and MYCN overexpression elicits increased proliferation but does not sustain neuroblast survival. Unexpectedly, long-term expression of activated ALK
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: MYCN overexpression combined with activated anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is sufficient to induce neuroblastoma (NB) in mouse sympathoadrenal cells. To address cellular and molecular effects elicited by MYCN/ALK cooperation, we used cultures of chick sympathetic neuroblasts. We demonstrate that MYCN increases proliferation but not survival, whereas long-term expression of ALK

Sbarrato T, Horvilleur E, Pöyry T, et al.
A ribosome-related signature in peripheral blood CLL B cells is linked to reduced survival following treatment.
Cell Death Dis. 2016; 7(6):e2249 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We have used polysome profiling coupled to microarray analysis to examine the translatome of a panel of peripheral blood (PB) B cells isolated from 34 chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) patients. We have identified a 'ribosome-related' signature in CLL patients with mRNAs encoding for ribosomal proteins and factors that modify ribosomal RNA, e.g. DKC1 (which encodes dyskerin, a pseudouridine synthase), showing reduced polysomal association and decreased expression of the corresponding proteins. Our data suggest a general impact of dyskerin dysregulation on the translational apparatus in CLL and importantly patients with low dyskerin levels have a significantly shorter period of overall survival following treatment. Thus, translational dysregulation of dyskerin could constitute a mechanism by which the CLL PB B cells acquire an aggressive phenotype and thus have a major role in oncogenesis.

Bannon SA, DiNardo CD
Hereditary Predispositions to Myelodysplastic Syndrome.
Int J Mol Sci. 2016; 17(6) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are heterogeneous clonal hematopoietic disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis, bone marrow dysplasia, and peripheral cytopenias. Familial forms of MDS have traditionally been considered rare, especially in adults; however, the increasing availability of somatic and germline genetic analyses has identified multiple susceptibility loci. Bone marrow failure syndromes have been well-described in the pediatric setting, e.g., Fanconi anemia (FA), dyskeratosis congenita (DC), Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA), and Shwachman-Diamond syndrome (SBS), hallmarked by clinically-recognizable phenotypes (e.g., radial ray anomalies in FA) and significantly increased risks for MDS and/or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in the setting of bone marrow failure. However, additional families with multiple cases of MDS or AML have long been reported in the medical literature with little known regarding potential hereditary etiologies. Over the last decade, genomic investigation of such families has revealed multiple genes conferring inherited risks for MDS and/or AML as the primary malignancy, including RUNX1, ANKRD26, DDX41, ETV6, GATA2, and SRP72. As these syndromes are increasingly appreciated in even apparently de novo presentations of MDS, it is important for hematologists/oncologists to become familiar with these newly-described syndromes. Herein, we provide a review of familial MDS syndromes and practical aspects of management in patients with predisposition syndromes.

O'Brien R, Tran SL, Maritz MF, et al.
MYC-Driven Neuroblastomas Are Addicted to a Telomerase-Independent Function of Dyskerin.
Cancer Res. 2016; 76(12):3604-17 [PubMed] Related Publications
The RNA-binding protein dyskerin, encoded by the DKC1 gene, functions as a core component of the telomerase holoenzyme as well as ribonuclear protein complexes involved in RNA processing and ribosome biogenesis. The diverse roles of dyskerin across many facets of RNA biology implicate its potential contribution to malignancy. In this study, we examined the expression and function of dyskerin in neuroblastoma. We show that DKC1 mRNA levels were elevated relative to normal cells across a panel of 15 neuroblastoma cell lines, where both N-Myc and c-Myc directly targeted the DKC1 promoter. Upregulation of MYCN was shown to dramatically increase DKC1 expression. In two independent neuroblastoma patient cohorts, high DKC1 expression correlated strongly with poor event-free and overall survival (P < 0.0001), independently of established prognostic factors. RNAi-mediated depletion of dyskerin inhibited neuroblastoma cell proliferation, including cells immortalized via the telomerase-independent ALT mechanism. Furthermore, dyskerin attenuation impaired anchorage-independent proliferation and tumor growth. Overexpression of the telomerase RNA component, hTR, demonstrated that this proliferative impairment was not a consequence of telomerase suppression. Instead, ribosomal stress, evidenced by depletion of small nucleolar RNAs and nuclear dispersal of ribosomal proteins, was the likely cause of the proliferative impairment in dyskerin-depleted cells. Accordingly, dyskerin suppression caused p53-dependent G1 cell-cycle arrest in p53 wild-type cells, and a p53-independent pathway impaired proliferation in cells with p53 dysfunction. Together, our findings highlight dyskerin as a new therapeutic target in neuroblastoma with crucial telomerase-independent functions and broader implications for the spectrum of malignancies driven by MYC family oncogenes. Cancer Res; 76(12); 3604-17. ©2016 AACR.

Takai H, Jenkinson E, Kabir S, et al.
A POT1 mutation implicates defective telomere end fill-in and telomere truncations in Coats plus.
Genes Dev. 2016; 30(7):812-26 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Coats plus (CP) can be caused by mutations in the CTC1 component of CST, which promotes polymerase α (polα)/primase-dependent fill-in throughout the genome and at telomeres. The cellular pathology relating to CP has not been established. We identified a homozygous POT1 S322L substitution (POT1(CP)) in two siblings with CP. POT1(CP)induced a proliferative arrest that could be bypassed by telomerase. POT1(CP)was expressed at normal levels, bound TPP1 and telomeres, and blocked ATR signaling. POT1(CP)was defective in regulating telomerase, leading to telomere elongation rather than the telomere shortening observed in other telomeropathies. POT1(CP)was also defective in the maintenance of the telomeric C strand, causing extended 3' overhangs and stochastic telomere truncations that could be healed by telomerase. Consistent with shortening of the telomeric C strand, metaphase chromosomes showed loss of telomeres synthesized by leading strand DNA synthesis. We propose that CP is caused by a defect in POT1/CST-dependent telomere fill-in. We further propose that deficiency in the fill-in step generates truncated telomeres that halt proliferation in cells lacking telomerase, whereas, in tissues expressing telomerase (e.g., bone marrow), the truncations are healed. The proposed etiology can explain why CP presents with features distinct from those associated with telomerase defects (e.g., dyskeratosis congenita).

Noto Z, Tomihara K, Furukawa K, Noguchi M
Dyskeratosis congenita associated with leukoplakia of the tongue.
Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2016; 45(6):760-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is an inherited disease characterized by the triad of skin pigmentation, nail dystrophy, and oral leukoplakia. Among other abnormalities, bone marrow failure and a predisposition to cancer are recognized as the major causes of premature mortality in patients with DC. This disease is associated with short telomeres and mutations in 10 genes associated with telomerase and telomere components. The case of a 35-year-old male patient diagnosed with DC, who presented with leukoplakia of the tongue and had a high degree of hypoplastic marrow, but no haematological abnormalities, is reported here. The diagnosis of DC was confirmed by detection of short telomeres in the blood cells and mutations in the DKC1 gene. This encounter with the case presented suggests that an awareness of the classical forms of DC is important for oral clinicians so that an early diagnosis can be made and the patient can be managed appropriately. Furthermore, genetic analysis is necessary to establish the diagnosis of DC.

Panero J, Stella F, Schutz N, et al.
Differential Expression of Non-Shelterin Genes Associated with High Telomerase Levels and Telomere Shortening in Plasma Cell Disorders.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(9):e0137972 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Telomerase, shelterin proteins and various interacting factors, named non-shelterin proteins, are involved in the regulation of telomere length (TL). Altered expression of any of these telomere-associated genes can lead to telomere dysfunction, causing genomic instability and disease development. In this study, we investigated the expression profile of a set of non-shelterin genes involved in essential processes such as replication (RPA1), DNA damage repair pathways (MRE11-RAD50-NBS1) and stabilization of telomerase complex (DKC1), in 35 patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and 40 cases with multiple myeloma (MM). Results were correlated with hTERT expression, TL and clinical parameters. Overall, a significant increase in DKC1, RAD50, MRE11, NBS1 and RPA1 expression along with an upregulation of hTERT in MM compared with MGUS was observed (p≤0.032). Interestingly, in both entities high mRNA levels of non-shelterin genes were associated with short TLs and increased hTERT expression. Significant differences were observed for DKC1 in MM (p ≤0.026), suggesting an important role for this gene in the maintenance of short telomeres by telomerase in myeloma plasma cells. With regard to clinical associations, we observed a significant increase in DKC1, RAD50, MRE11 and RPA1 expression in MM cases with high bone marrow infiltration (p≤0.03) and a tendency towards cases with advanced ISS stage, providing the first evidence of non-shelterin genes associated to risk factors in MM. Taken together, our findings bring new insights into the intricate mechanisms by which telomere-associated proteins collaborate in the maintenance of plasma cells immortalization and suggest a role for the upregulation of these genes in the progression of the disease.

Penzo M, Ludovini V, Treré D, et al.
Dyskerin and TERC expression may condition survival in lung cancer patients.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(25):21755-60 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Dyskerin mediates both the modification of uridine on ribosomal and small nuclear RNAs and the stabilization of the telomerase RNA component (TERC). In human tumors dyskerin expression was found to be associated with both rRNA modification and TERC levels. Moreover, dyskerin overexpression has been linked to unfavorable prognosis in a variety of tumor types, however an explanation for the latter association is not available. To clarify this point, we analyzed the connection between dyskerin expression, TERC levels and clinical outcome in two series of primary lung cancers, differing for the presence of TERC gene amplification, a genetic alteration inducing strong TERC overexpression. TERC levels were significantly higher in tumors bearing TERC gene amplification (P = 0.017). In addition, the well-established association between dyskerin expression and TERC levels was observed only in the series without TERC gene amplification (P = 0.003), while it was not present in TERC amplified tumors (P = 0.929). Similarly, the association between dyskerin expression and survival was found in cases not bearing TERC gene amplification (P = 0.009) and was not observed in TERC amplified tumors (P = 0.584). These results indicate that the influence of dyskerin expression on tumor clinical outcome is linked to its role on the maintenance of high levels of TERC.

Babushok DV, Bessler M
Genetic predisposition syndromes: when should they be considered in the work-up of MDS?
Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2015; 28(1):55-68 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are clonal hematopoietic disorders characterized by cytopenias, ineffective hematopoiesis, myelodysplasia, and an increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). While sporadic MDS is primarily a disease of the elderly, MDS in children and young and middle-aged adults is frequently associated with underlying genetic predisposition syndromes. In addition to the classic hereditary bone marrow failure syndromes (BMFS) such as Fanconi Anemia and Dyskeratosis Congenita, in recent years there has been an increased awareness of non-syndromic familial MDS/AML predisposition syndromes such as those caused by mutations in GATA2, RUNX1, CEBPA, and SRP72 genes. Here, we will discuss the importance of recognizing an underlying genetic predisposition syndrome a patient with MDS, will review clinical scenarios when genetic predisposition should be considered, and will provide a practical overview of the common BMFS and familial MDS/AML syndromes which may be encountered in adult patients with MDS.

Zhang MY, Keel SB, Walsh T, et al.
Genomic analysis of bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndromes reveals phenotypic and diagnostic complexity.
Haematologica. 2015; 100(1):42-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Accurate and timely diagnosis of inherited bone marrow failure and inherited myelodysplastic syndromes is essential to guide clinical management. Distinguishing inherited from acquired bone marrow failure/myelodysplastic syndrome poses a significant clinical challenge. At present, diagnostic genetic testing for inherited bone marrow failure/myelodysplastic syndrome is performed gene-by-gene, guided by clinical and laboratory evaluation. We hypothesized that standard clinically-directed genetic testing misses patients with cryptic or atypical presentations of inherited bone marrow failure/myelodysplastic syndrome. In order to screen simultaneously for mutations of all classes in bone marrow failure/myelodysplastic syndrome genes, we developed and validated a panel of 85 genes for targeted capture and multiplexed massively parallel sequencing. In patients with clinical diagnoses of Fanconi anemia, genomic analysis resolved subtype assignment, including those of patients with inconclusive complementation test results. Eight out of 71 patients with idiopathic bone marrow failure or myelodysplastic syndrome were found to harbor damaging germline mutations in GATA2, RUNX1, DKC1, or LIG4. All 8 of these patients lacked classical clinical stigmata or laboratory findings of these syndromes and only 4 had a family history suggestive of inherited disease. These results reflect the extensive genetic heterogeneity and phenotypic complexity of bone marrow failure/myelodysplastic syndrome phenotypes. This study supports the integration of broad unbiased genetic screening into the diagnostic workup of children and young adults with bone marrow failure and myelodysplastic syndromes.

Townsley DM, Dumitriu B, Young NS
Bone marrow failure and the telomeropathies.
Blood. 2014; 124(18):2775-83 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Our understanding of the pathophysiology of aplastic anemia is undergoing significant revision, with implications for diagnosis and treatment. Constitutional and acquired disease is poorly delineated, as lesions in some genetic pathways cause stereotypical childhood syndromes and also act as risk factors for clinical manifestations in adult life. Telomere diseases are a prominent example of this relationship. Accelerated telomere attrition is the result of mutations in telomere repair genes and genes encoding components of the shelterin complex and related proteins. Genotype-phenotype correlations show genes responsible for X-linked (DKC1) and severe recessive childhood dyskeratosis congenita, typically with associated mucocutaneous features, and others (TERC and TERT) for more subtle presentation as telomeropathy in adults, in which multiorgan failure may be prominent. Telomerase mutations also are etiologic in familial pulmonary fibrosis and cryptic liver disease. Detection of a telomere disease requires awareness in the clinic, appropriate laboratory testing of telomere content, and genetic sequencing. In treatment decisions, genetic screening of related donors for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is critical, and androgen therapy may be helpful. Telomeres shorten normally with aging, as well as under environmental circumstances, with regenerative stress and oxidative damage. Telomere biology is complexly related to oncogenesis: telomere attrition is protective by enforcing senescence or apoptosis in cells with a long mitotic history, but telomere loss also can destabilize the genome by chromosome rearrangement and aneuploidy.

Lin P, Mobasher ME, Alawi F
Acute dyskerin depletion triggers cellular senescence and renders osteosarcoma cells resistant to genotoxic stress-induced apoptosis.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014; 446(4):1268-75 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Dyskerin is a conserved, nucleolar RNA-binding protein implicated in an increasing array of fundamental cellular processes. Germline mutation in the dyskerin gene (DKC1) is the cause of X-linked dyskeratosis congenita (DC). Conversely, wild-type dyskerin is overexpressed in sporadic cancers, and high-levels may be associated with poor prognosis. It was previously reported that acute loss of dyskerin function via siRNA-mediated depletion slowed the proliferation of transformed cell lines. However, the mechanisms remained unclear. Using human U2OS osteosarcoma cells, we show that siRNA-mediated dyskerin depletion induced cellular senescence as evidenced by proliferative arrest, senescence-associated heterochromatinization and a senescence-associated molecular profile. Senescence can render cells resistant to apoptosis. Conversely, chromatin relaxation can reverse the repressive effects of senescence-associated heterochromatinization on apoptosis. To this end, genotoxic stress-induced apoptosis was suppressed in dyskerin-depleted cells. In contrast, agents that induce chromatin relaxation, including histone deacetylase inhibitors and the DNA intercalator chloroquine, sensitized dyskerin-depleted cells to apoptosis. Dyskerin is a core component of the telomerase complex and plays an important role in telomere homeostasis. Defective telomere maintenance resulting in premature senescence is thought to primarily underlie the pathogenesis of X-linked DC. Since U2OS cells are telomerase-negative, this leads us to conclude that loss of dyskerin function can also induce cellular senescence via mechanisms independent of telomere shortening.

Powell JB, Dokal I, Carr R, et al.
X-linked dyskeratosis congenita presenting in adulthood with photodamaged skin and epiphora.
Clin Exp Dermatol. 2014; 39(3):310-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous multisystem bone marrow failure disorder of telomere maintenance, which may present with dermatological features. The main cause of mortality is bone marrow failure, often developing in the second decade of life, although pulmonary disease and malignancies such as squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) may also prove fatal. We report the case of a 28-year-old man with X-linked DC and confirmed DKC1 gene mutation. In addition to the classic triad of nail dystrophy, hyperpigmentation and oral leucoplakia, the patient had actinic keratosis (AK) and photodamaged skin, hitherto under-recognized features of this condition. Awareness of the clinical presentation of DC is important, as accurate clinical and molecular diagnosis affords patients and their families genetic counselling, cancer prevention and screening measures, and planning for complications such as bone marrow failure.

Chen LY, Majerská J, Lingner J
Molecular basis of telomere syndrome caused by CTC1 mutations.
Genes Dev. 2013; 27(19):2099-108 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mutations in CTC1 lead to the telomere syndromes Coats Plus and dyskeratosis congenita (DC), but the molecular mechanisms involved remain unknown. CTC1 forms with STN1 and TEN1 a trimeric complex termed CST, which binds ssDNA, promotes telomere DNA synthesis, and inhibits telomerase-mediated telomere elongation. Here we identify CTC1 disease mutations that disrupt CST complex formation, the physical interaction with DNA polymerase α-primase (polα-primase), telomeric ssDNA binding in vitro, accumulation in the nucleus, and/or telomere association in vivo. While having diverse molecular defects, CTC1 mutations commonly lead to the accumulation of internal single-stranded gaps of telomeric DNA, suggesting telomere DNA replication defects as a primary cause of the disease. Strikingly, mutations in CTC1 may also unleash telomerase repression and telomere length control. Hence, the telomere defect initiated by CTC1 mutations is distinct from the telomerase insufficiencies seen in classical forms of telomere syndromes, which cause short telomeres due to reduced maintenance of distal telomeric ends by telomerase. Our analysis provides molecular evidence that CST collaborates with DNA polα-primase to promote faithful telomere DNA replication.

Batista LF, Artandi SE
Understanding telomere diseases through analysis of patient-derived iPS cells.
Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2013; 23(5):526-33 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
A unique characteristic of tissue stem cells is the ability to self-renew, a process that enables the life-long maintenance of many organs. Stem cell self-renewal is dependent in part on the synthesis of telomere repeats by the enzyme telomerase. Defects in telomerase and in genes in the telomere maintenance pathway result in diverse disease states, including dyskeratosis congenita, pulmonary fibrosis, aplastic anemia, liver cirrhosis and cancer. Many of these disease states share a tissue failure phenotype, such as loss of bone marrow cells or failure of pulmonary epithelium, suggesting that stem cell dysfunction is a common pathophysiological mechanism underlying these telomere diseases. Studies of telomere diseases in undifferentiated iPS cells have provided a quantitative relationship between the magnitude of biochemical defects in the telomerase pathway and disease severity in patients, thereby establishing a clear correlation between genotype and phenotype in telomere disease states. Modeling telomere diseases in iPS cells has also revealed diverse underlying disease mechanisms, including reduced telomerase catalytic activity, diminished assembly of the telomerase holoenzyme and impaired trafficking of the enzyme within the nucleus. These studies highlight the need for therapies tailored to the underlying biochemical defect in each class of patients.

Hartwig FP, Collares T
Telomere dysfunction and tumor suppression responses in dyskeratosis congenita: balancing cancer and tissue renewal impairment.
Ageing Res Rev. 2013; 12(2):642-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) encompasses a large spectrum of diseases and clinical manifestations generally related to premature aging, including bone marrow failure and cancer predisposition. The major risk factor for DC is to carry germline telomere-related mutations - in telomerase or telomere shelterin genes - which results in premature telomere dysfunction, thus increasing the risk of premature aging impairments. Despite the advances that have been accomplished in DC research, the molecular aspects underlying the phenotypic variability of the disease remain poorly understood. Here different aspects of telomere biology, concerning adult stem cells senescence, tumor suppression and cancer are considered in the context of DC, resulting in two translational models: late onset of DC symptoms in telomere-related mutations carriers is a potential indicator of increased cancer risk and differences in tumor suppression capacities among the genetic subgroups are (at least partial) causes of different clinical manifestations of the disease. The limitations of both models are presented, and further experiments for their validation, as well as clinical implications, are discussed.

Penzo M, Casoli L, Ceccarelli C, et al.
DKC1 gene mutations in human sporadic cancer.
Histol Histopathol. 2013; 28(3):365-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Germline mutations in the tumour suppressor gene dyskeratosis congenit 1 (DKC1) cause the cancer prone syndrome called X-linked dyskeratosis congenita. The present study aims to determine whether mutations of the DKC1 gene may also be present in frequent human sporadic cancers (breast, colon and lung cancers), thus potentially contributing to the neoplastic phenotype.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: mutation analysis of the DKC1 gene was performed on DNA from 110 primary human lung, 54 breast, and 35 colon cancers, focusing on gene regions where pathogenic germline mutations have been described previously (promoter and exons 1, 3, 9, 10, 11, and 14).
RESULTS: Out of a total of 199 primary tumours of different origins, only 5 turned out to have sequence variations in the DKC1 gene. These variations were of two kinds, C8120T and C13554T, which are both classified as synonymous mutations and do not affect DKC1 mRNA splicing.
CONCLUSION: direct DKC1 gene mutations are not a frequent event in tumourigenesis, at least in the tumour types investigated and for the DKC1 gene portions considered in this study.

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