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Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2005 May-Jun;34(3):257-63.

Mutations in the reverse transcriptase component of telomerase (TERT) in patients with bone marrow failure.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Division of Investigative Science, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London W12 ONN, UK.


Human telomerase has two core components, the RNA molecule (TERC) that provides the template for telomere repeat elongation and a reverse transcriptase (TERT) that is responsible for the addition of telomere repeats at the ends of each chromosome. Mutations in TERC have been found in the autosomal-dominant form of the inherited bone marrow failure syndrome dyskeratosis congenita and in a subset of patients with aplastic anemia and myelodysplasia. These patients have short telomeres compared to age-matched controls. These observations suggest that uncharacterised cases of dyskeratosis congenita/aplastic anemia may have mutations in TERT or other molecules that associate with TERC in the telomerase complex. We have therefore screened the TERT gene for mutation by denaturing HPLC in 80 patients with inherited and acquired bone marrow failure (24 with dyskeratosis congenita, 36 with constitutional aplastic anemia, 13 with idiopathic aplastic anemia and 7 with other forms of bone marrow failure). 15 different TERT mutations have been identified. Of these, 5 are in flanking intron sequences, 6 are synonymous and 4 are non-synonymous (missense) substitutions in the coding sequence. These are the first natural mutations of TERT to be described and we highlight their possible pathogenic role in the development of bone marrow failure.

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