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Blood. 2007 Dec 15;110(13):4198-205. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

Telomerase reverse-transcriptase homozygous mutations in autosomal recessive dyskeratosis congenita and Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome.

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Academic Unit of Paediatrics, Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Barts and The London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.


Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is a multisystem bone marrow failure syndrome characterized by a triad of mucocutaneous abnormalities and an increased predisposition to malignancy. X-linked DC is due to mutations in DKC1, while heterozygous mutations in TERC (telomerase RNA component) and TERT (telomerase reverse transcriptase) have been found in autosomal dominant DC. Many patients with DC remain uncharacterized, particularly families displaying autosomal recessive (AR) inheritance. We have now identified novel homozygous TERT mutations in 2 unrelated consanguineous families, where the index cases presented with classical DC or the more severe variant, Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson (HH) syndrome. These TERT mutations resulted in reduced telomerase activity and extremely short telomeres. As these mutations are homozygous, these patients are predicted to have significantly reduced telomerase activity in vivo. Interestingly, in contrast to patients with heterozygous TERT mutations or hemizygous DKC1 mutations, these 2 homozygous TERT patients were observed to have higher-than-expected TERC levels compared with controls. Collectively, the findings from this study demonstrate that homozygous TERT mutations, resulting in a pure but severe telomerase deficiency, produce a phenotype of classical AR-DC and its severe variant, the HH syndrome.

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