TERRA G-quadruplex RNA interaction with TRF2 GAR domain is required for telomere integrity

Yang Mei, Zhong Deng, Olga Vladimirova, Nitish Gulve, F. Brad Johnson, William C. Drosopoulos, Carl L. Schildkraut, Paul M. Lieberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Telomere dysfunction causes chromosomal instability which is associated with many cancers and age-related diseases. The non-coding telomeric repeat-containing RNA (TERRA) forms a structural and regulatory component of the telomere that is implicated in telomere maintenance and chromosomal end protection. The basic N-terminal Gly/Arg-rich (GAR) domain of telomeric repeat-binding factor 2 (TRF2) can bind TERRA but the structural basis and significance of this interaction remains poorly understood. Here, we show that TRF2 GAR recognizes G-quadruplex features of TERRA. We show that small molecules that disrupt the TERRA-TRF2 GAR complex, such as N-methyl mesoporphyrin IX (NMM) or genetic deletion of TRF2 GAR domain, result in the loss of TERRA, and the induction of γH2AX-associated telomeric DNA damage associated with decreased telomere length, and increased telomere aberrations, including telomere fragility. Taken together, our data indicates that the G-quadruplex structure of TERRA is an important recognition element for TRF2 GAR domain and this interaction between TRF2 GAR and TERRA is essential to maintain telomere stability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3509
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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