Telomeric repeat-containing RNA (TERRA) constitutes a nucleoprotein component of extracellular inflammatory exosomes

  • Zhuo Wang, Zhong Deng, Nadia Dahmane, Kevin Tsai, Pu Wang, Dewight R. Williams, Andrew V. Kossenkov, Louise C. Showe, Rugang Zhang, Qihong Huang, José R. Conejo-Garcia, Paul M. Lieberman
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2015, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1505962112

What is it about?

In general, telomeres are believed to function within the nucleus. They determine the age of a cell and maintain genome stability. In this article, we described a new role of telomeres, in which telomeres could stimulate inflammation. This stimulation is achieved by a non-coding RNA that transcribed from telomeres, named TERRA. We found TERRA is secreted through exosomes. These TERRA containing exosomes stimulate the production of inflammatory cytokines in the recipient cells.

Why is it important?

Our studies extend the knowledge of telomeres and TERRA, which linked telomere dysfunction with the inflammatory phenotype. It provides new perspectives of inflammation generated during aging and cancer development.


Zhuo Wang
The Wistar Institute

In this study, we demonstrated that TERRA is secreted through exosomes, and these exosomes are capable of activating the production of inflammatory cytokines. These findings imply a novel function of TERRA as an extrinsic damage signal to alert the immune system.

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