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Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Jul;32(13):2428-39. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00286-12. Epub 2012 Apr 23.

An enhanced H/ACA RNP assembly mechanism for human telomerase RNA.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California, USA.


The integral telomerase RNA subunit templates the synthesis of telomeric repeats. The biological accumulation of human telomerase RNA (hTR) requires hTR H/ACA domain assembly with the same proteins that assemble on other human H/ACA RNAs. Despite this shared RNP composition, hTR accumulation is particularly sensitized to disruption by disease-linked H/ACA protein variants. We show that contrary to expectation, hTR-specific sequence requirements for biological accumulation do not act at an hTR-specific step of H/ACA RNP biogenesis; instead, they enhance hTR binding to the shared, chaperone-bound scaffold of H/ACA core proteins that mediates initial RNP assembly. We recapitulate physiological H/ACA RNP assembly with a preassembled NAF1/dyskerin/NOP10/NHP2 scaffold purified from cell extract and demonstrate that distributed sequence features of the hTR 3' hairpin synergize to improve scaffold binding. Our findings reveal that the hTR H/ACA domain is distinguished from other human H/ACA RNAs not by a distinct set of RNA-protein interactions but by an increased efficiency of RNP assembly. Our findings suggest a unifying mechanism for human telomerase deficiencies associated with H/ACA protein variants.

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