Telomeric repeat-CONTAINING RNAs (TERRA) decrease in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is associated withWorsened clinical outcome

Valerio Vitelli, Paolo Falvo, Solomon G. Nergadze, Marco Santagostino, Lela Khoriauli, Paola Pellanda, Giulia Bertino, Antonio Occhini, Marco Benazzo, Patrizia Morbini, Marco Paulli, Camillo Porta, Elena Giulotto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Telomeres are transcribed into noncoding telomeric repeat-containing RNAs (TERRA), which are essential for telomere maintenance. Deregulation of TERRA transcription impairs telomere metabolism and a role in tumorigenesis has been proposed. Head and neck cancer (HNC) is one of the most frequent cancers worldwide, with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) being the predominant type. Since HNSCC patients are characterized by altered telomere maintenance, a dysfunction in telomere transcription can be hypothesized. In this prospective study, we compared TERRA levels in the tumor and matched normal tissue from 23 HNSCC patients. We then classified patients in two categories according to the level of TERRA expression in the tumor compared to the normal tissue: (1) lower expression in the tumor, (2) higher or similar expression in tumor. A significant proportion of patients in the first group died of the disease within less than 34 months postsurgery, while the majority of patients in the second group were alive and disease-free. Our results highlight a striking correlation between TERRA expression and tumor aggressiveness in HNSCC suggesting that TERRA levels may be proposed as a novel molecular prognostic marker for HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number274
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 17 2018

Keywords

  • Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • Telomere transcription
  • TERRA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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