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J Biol Chem. 2005 Jun 24;280(25):23502-15. Epub 2005 Apr 4.

Comparative functional study of the viral telomerase RNA based on natural mutations.

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Laboratoire Telomerase, Lymphome Viro-induit, Centre de Recherches INRA de Tours, UR-BASE 086, 37380 Nouzilly, France.


Telomerase activity is present in most malignant tumors and provides a mechanism for the unlimited potential for division of neoplastic cells. We previously characterized the first identified viral telomerase RNA (vTR) encoded by the Marek's disease virus (MDV) (Fragnet, L., Blasco, M. A., Klapper, W., and Rasschaert, D. (2003) J. Virol. 77, 5985-5996). This avian herpesvirus induces T-lymphomas. We demonstrated that the vTR subunit of the oncogenic MDV-RB1B strain is functional and would be more efficient than its chicken counterpart, cTR, which is 88% homologous. We take advantage of the functionality of those natural mutant TRs to investigate the involvement of the mutations of vTR on its efficiency in a heterologous murine cell system and in a homologous in vitro system using the recombinant chicken telomerase reverse transcriptase. The P2 helix of the pseudoknot seems to be more stable in vTR than in cTR, and this may account for the higher activity of vTR than cTR. Moreover, the five adenines just upstream from the P3 helix of vTR may also play an important role in its efficiency. We also established that the substitution of a single nucleotide at the 3'-extremity of the H-box of the vaccine MDV-Rispens strain vTR resulted in a lack of its accumulation within the cell, especially in the nucleus, correlated with a decrease in telomerase activity.

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