Project description:Through an integration of genomic and proteomic approaches to advance understanding of long noncoding RNAs, we investigate the function of the telomeric transcript, TERRA. By identifying thousands of TERRA target sites in the mouse genome, we demonstrate that TERRA can bind both in cis to telomeres and in trans to genic targets. We then define a large network of interacting proteins, including epigenetic factors, telomeric proteins, and the RNA helicase, ATRX. TERRA and ATRX share hundreds of target genes and are functionally antagonistic at these loci: whereas TERRA activates, ATRX represses gene expression. At telomeres, TERRA competes with telomeric DNA for ATRX binding, suppresses ATRX localization, and ensures telomeric stability. Depleting TERRA increases telomerase activity and induces telomeric pathologies, including formation of telomere-induced DNA damage foci and loss or duplication of telomeric sequences. We conclude that TERRA functions as an epigenomic modulator in trans and as an essential regulator of telomeres in cis.
Project description:Through an integration of genomic and proteomic approaches to advance understanding of long noncoding RNAs, we investigate the function of the telomeric transcript, TERRA. By identifying thousands of TERRA target sites in the mouse genome, we demonstrate that TERRA can bind both in cis to telomeres and in trans to genic targets. We then define a large network of interacting proteins, including epigenetic factors, telomeric proteins, and the RNA helicase, ATRX. TERRA and ATRX share hundreds of target genes and are functionally antagonistic at these loci: whereas TERRA activates, ATRX represses gene expression. At telomeres, TERRA competes with telomeric DNA for ATRX binding, suppresses ATRX localization, and ensures telomeric stability. Depleting TERRA increases telomerase activity and induces telomeric pathologies, including formation of telomere-induced DNA damage foci and loss or duplication of telomeric sequences. We conclude that TERRA functions as an epigenomic modulator in trans and as an essential regulator of telomeres in cis. Overall design: We used CHIRT-seq to identify of TERRA interacting chromatin. We used “CHIRT,” a hybrid ChIRP and CHART method optimized for TERRA capture. Several capture probe sets were designed: (i) TERRA antisense (TERRA-AS), to capture transcripts containing UUAGGG, and (ii) TERRA sense (TERRA-S, the reverse complement), to control for strand-specificity and further rule out DNA capture artifacts due to probe hybridization to genomic DNA rather than the intended RNA target. We sequenced two critical controls: (i) an RNaseH- control in which RNaseH was omitted in the elution step, which should preclude elution of RNA-dependent interactions; and (ii) a TERRA-S control, which would not hybridize to TERRA RNA but could pull down genomic DNA. We analyzed RNA-seq after TERRA depletion using single-stranded antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) with locked nucleic acids (LNA) chemistry.
Project description:Maintenance of telomeres requires both DNA replication and telomere 'capping' by shelterin. These two processes use two single-stranded DNA (ssDNA)-binding proteins, replication protein A (RPA) and protection of telomeres 1 (POT1). Although RPA and POT1 each have a critical role at telomeres, how they function in concert is not clear. POT1 ablation leads to activation of the ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) checkpoint kinase at telomeres, suggesting that POT1 antagonizes RPA binding to telomeric ssDNA. Unexpectedly, we found that purified POT1 and its functional partner TPP1 are unable to prevent RPA binding to telomeric ssDNA efficiently. In cell extracts, we identified a novel activity that specifically displaces RPA, but not POT1, from telomeric ssDNA. Using purified protein, here we show that the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1) recapitulates the RPA displacing activity. The RPA displacing activity is inhibited by the telomeric repeat-containing RNA (TERRA) in early S phase, but is then unleashed in late S phase when TERRA levels decline at telomeres. Interestingly, TERRA also promotes POT1 binding to telomeric ssDNA by removing hnRNPA1, suggesting that the re-accumulation of TERRA after S phase helps to complete the RPA-to-POT1 switch on telomeric ssDNA. Together, our data suggest that hnRNPA1, TERRA and POT1 act in concert to displace RPA from telomeric ssDNA after DNA replication, and promote telomere capping to preserve genomic integrity.
Project description:Cancer cells rely on telomerase or the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway to overcome replicative mortality. ALT is mediated by recombination and is prevalent in a subset of human cancers, yet whether it can be exploited therapeutically remains unknown. Loss of the chromatin-remodeling protein ATRX associates with ALT in cancers. Here, we show that ATRX loss compromises cell-cycle regulation of the telomeric noncoding RNA TERRA and leads to persistent association of replication protein A (RPA) with telomeres after DNA replication, creating a recombinogenic nucleoprotein structure. Inhibition of the protein kinase ATR, a critical regulator of recombination recruited by RPA, disrupts ALT and triggers chromosome fragmentation and apoptosis in ALT cells. The cell death induced by ATR inhibitors is highly selective for cancer cells that rely on ALT, suggesting that such inhibitors may be useful for treatment of ALT-positive cancers.
Project description:Cancer cells survive cellular crisis through telomere maintenance mechanisms. We report telomere lengths in 18,430 samples, including tumors and non-neoplastic samples, across 31 cancer types. Telomeres were shorter in tumors than in normal tissues and longer in sarcomas and gliomas than in other cancers. Among 6,835 cancers, 73% expressed telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), which was associated with TERT point mutations, rearrangements, DNA amplifications and transcript fusions and predictive of telomerase activity. TERT promoter methylation provided an additional deregulatory TERT expression mechanism. Five percent of cases, characterized by undetectable TERT expression and alterations in ATRX or DAXX, demonstrated elongated telomeres and increased telomeric repeat-containing RNA (TERRA). The remaining 22% of tumors neither expressed TERT nor harbored alterations in ATRX or DAXX. In this group, telomere length positively correlated with TP53 and RB1 mutations. Our analysis integrates TERT abnormalities, telomerase activity and genomic alterations with telomere length in cancer.
Project description:Mammalian telomeres consist of TTAGGG repeats organized in nucleosomes and associated with a six-protein complex known as shelterin, which preserves telomere structure and protects chromosome ends from the cellular DNA damage response. Recent studies have found that telomeres are transcribed into telomeric UUAGGG repeat-containing RNA (TERRA) starting from subtelomeric regions. TERRA binding at telomeres appears to be involved in cis-based mechanisms of telomeric chromatin organization and maintenance. A number of histone methyltransferases (HMTs) are known to influence telomeric chromatin status; however, the regulatory mechanisms of telomere transcription are poorly understood. Here, we show that the histone 3/lysine 4 (H3/K4) HMT and the transcriptional regulator MLL associate with telomeres and contribute to their H3/K4 methylation and transcription in a telomere length-dependent manner. In human diploid fibroblasts, RNA interference-mediated MLL depletion affects telomere chromatin modification and transcription and induces the telomere damage response. Telomere uncapping through either TRF2 shelterin protein knockdown or exposure to telomere G-strand DNA oligonucleotides significantly increases the transcription of TERRA, an effect mediated by the functional cooperation between MLL and the tumor suppressor p53. In total, our findings identify a previously unrecognized role of MLL in modifying telomeric chromatin and provide evidence for the functional interaction between MLL, p53, and the shelterin complex in the regulation of telomeric transcription and stability.
Project description:Telomeres cap the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, protecting them from degradation and erroneous recombination events which may lead to genome instability. Telomeres are transcribed giving rise to telomeric repeat-containing RNAs, called TERRA. The TERRA long noncoding RNAs have been proposed to play important roles in telomere biology, including heterochromatin formation and telomere length homeostasis. While TERRA RNAs are predominantly nuclear and localize at telomeres, little is known about the dynamics and function of TERRA molecules expressed from individual telomeres. Herein, we developed an assay to image endogenous TERRA molecules expressed from a single telomere in living human cancer cells. We show that single-telomere TERRA can be detected as TERRA RNA single particles which freely diffuse within the nucleus. Furthermore, TERRA molecules aggregate forming TERRA clusters. Three-dimensional size distribution and single particle tracking analyses revealed distinct sizes and dynamics for TERRA RNA single particles and clusters. Simultaneous time lapse confocal imaging of TERRA particles and telomeres showed that TERRA clusters transiently co-localize with telomeres. Finally, we used chemically modified antisense oligonucleotides to deplete TERRA molecules expressed from a single telomere. Single-telomere TERRA depletion resulted in increased DNA damage at telomeres and elsewhere in the genome. These results suggest that single-telomere TERRA transcripts participate in the maintenance of genomic integrity in human cancer cells.
Project description:Telomere deprotection occurs during tumorigenesis and aging upon telomere shortening or loss of the telomeric shelterin component TRF2. Deprotected telomeres undergo changes in chromatin structure and elicit a DNA damage response (DDR) that leads to cellular senescence. The telomeric long noncoding RNA TERRA has been implicated in modulating the structure and processing of deprotected telomeres. Here, we characterize the human TERRA transcriptome at normal and TRF2-depleted telomeres and demonstrate that TERRA upregulation is occurring upon depletion of TRF2 at all transcribed telomeres. TRF2 represses TERRA transcription through its homodimerization domain, which was previously shown to induce chromatin compaction and to prevent the early steps of DDR activation. We show that TERRA associates with SUV39H1 H3K9 histone methyltransferase, which promotes accumulation of H3K9me3 at damaged telomeres and end-to-end fusions. Altogether our data elucidate the TERRA landscape and defines critical roles for this RNA in the telomeric DNA damage response.
Project description:Telomeres, the physical ends of eukaryotic chromosomes, are transcribed into telomeric repeat-containing RNA (TERRA), a large non-coding RNA, which forms an integral part of telomeric heterochromatin. In vitro, naked TERRA molecules are efficient inhibitors of human telomerase, base-pairing via their 5'-UUAGGG-3' repeats with the template sequence of telomerase RNA, in addition to contacting the telomerase reverse transcriptase protein subunit. In vivo, however, TERRA-mediated inhibition of telomerase can be prevented by unknown mechanisms. Also, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1) has been implicated in telomere length control. In vivo, TERRA is partially associated with hnRNPA1, and hnRNPA1 is also detected at telomeres. We demonstrate that on binding of TERRA, hnRNPA1 can alleviate the TERRA-mediated inhibition of telomerase. However, when in excess over TERRA, hnRNPA1 becomes itself an inhibitor of telomere extension, on binding of the telomeric DNA substrate. Yet, hnRNPA1 has no notable direct effects on the telomerase catalysis. Our in vitro results suggest that TERRA-mediated telomerase inhibition may be prevented by hnRNPA1 in vivo. Telomere extension by telomerase may require balanced levels of TERRA and hnRNPA1 at telomeres. Thus, TERRA and hnRNPA1 can function as a bimolecular regulator to turn telomerase and the telomere on and off.
Project description:Telomere-repeat-encoding RNA (referred to as TERRA) has been identified as a potential component of yeast and mammalian telomeres. We show here that TERRA RNA interacts with several telomere-associated proteins, including telomere repeat factors 1 (TRF1) and 2 (TRF2), subunits of the origin recognition complex (ORC), heterochromatin protein 1 (HP1), histone H3 trimethyl K9 (H3 K9me3), and members of the DNA-damage-sensing pathway. siRNA depletion of TERRA caused an increase in telomere dysfunction-induced foci, aberrations in metaphase telomeres, and a loss of histone H3 K9me3 and ORC at telomere repeat DNA. Previous studies found that TRF2 amino-terminal GAR domain recruited ORC to telomeres. We now show that TERRA RNA can interact directly with the TRF2 GAR and ORC1 to form a stable ternary complex. We conclude that TERRA facilitates TRF2 interaction with ORC and plays a central role in telomere structural maintenance and heterochromatin formation.