Polymorphic tandem DNA repeats activate the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene. Other Scholarly Work

Xu, Tao, Cheng, De, Zhao, Yuanjun et al. (2021). Polymorphic tandem DNA repeats activate the human telomerase reverse transcriptase gene. . 118(26), e2019043118. 10.1073/pnas.2019043118

cited authors

  • Xu, Tao; Cheng, De; Zhao, Yuanjun; Zhang, Jinglong; Zhu, Xiaolu; Zhang, Fan; Chen, Gang; Wang, Yang; Yan, Xiufeng; Robertson, Gavin P; Gaddameedhi, Shobhan; Lazarus, Philip; Wang, Shuwen; Zhu, Jiyue

fiu authors


  • Multiple independent sequence variants of the hTERT locus have been associated with telomere length and cancer risks in genome-wide association studies. Here, we identified an intronic variable number tandem repeat, VNTR2-1, as an enhancer-like element, which activated hTERT transcription in a cell in a chromatin-dependent manner. VNTR2-1, consisting of 42-bp repeats with an array of enhancer boxes, cooperated with the proximal promoter in the regulation of hTERT transcription by basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors and maintained hTERT expression during embryonic stem-cell differentiation. Genomic deletion of VNTR2-1 in MelJuSo melanoma cells markedly reduced hTERT transcription, leading to telomere shortening, cellular senescence, and impairment of xenograft tumor growth. Interestingly, VNTR2-1 lengths varied widely in human populations; hTERT alleles with shorter VNTR2-1 were underrepresented in African American centenarians, indicating its role in human aging. Therefore, this polymorphic element is likely a missing link in the telomerase regulatory network and a molecular basis for genetic diversities of telomere homeostasis and age-related disease susceptibilities.

publication date

  • June 1, 2021


  • African Americans
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial
  • E-Box Elements
  • Genome, Human
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice, Nude
  • Minisatellite Repeats
  • Neoplasms
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Telomerase
  • Telomere Homeostasis
  • Transcriptional Activation

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


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  • e2019043118


  • 118


  • 26