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Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2007 May 1;104(18):7552-7. Epub 2007 Apr 25.

Adult-onset pulmonary fibrosis caused by Mutations in Telomerase

Tsakiri KD, Cronkhite JT, Kuan PJ, Xing C, Raghu G, Weissler JC, Rosenblatt RL, Shay JW, Garcia CK

Abstract: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is an adult-onset, lethal, scarring lung disease of unknown etiology. Some individuals with IPF have a familial disorder that segregates as a dominant trait with incomplete penetrance. Here we used linkage to map the disease gene in two families to chromosome 5. Sequencing a candidate gene within the interval, TERT, revealed a missense mutation and a frameshift mutation that cosegregated with pulmonary disease in the two families. TERT encodes telomerase reverse transcriptase, which together with the RNA component of telomerase (TERC), is required to maintain telomere integrity. Sequencing the probands of 44 additional unrelated families and 44 sporadic cases of interstitial lung disease revealed five other mutations in TERT. A heterozygous mutation in TERC also was found in one family. Heterozygous carriers of all of the mutations in TERT or TERC had shorter telomeres than age-matched family members without the mutations. Thus, mutations in TERT or TERC that result in telomere shortening over time confer a dramatic increase in susceptibility to adult-onset IPF.