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Data from: A telomerase with novel non-canonical roles: TERT controls cellular aggregation and tissue size in Dictyostelium


Baskar, Ramamurthy; Hyde, Geoffrey J.; Nassir, Nasna (2019), Data from: A telomerase with novel non-canonical roles: TERT controls cellular aggregation and tissue size in Dictyostelium, Dryad, Dataset,


Telomerase, particularly its main subunit, the reverse transcriptase, TERT, prevents DNA erosion during eukaryotic chromosomal replication, but also has poorly understood non-canonical functions. Here, in the model social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum, we show that the protein encoded by tert has telomerase-like motifs, and regulates, non-canonically, important developmental processes. Expression levels of wild-type (WT) tert were biphasic, peaking at 8 and 12 h post-starvation, aligning with developmental events, such as the initiation of streaming (~7 h) and mound formation (~10 h). In tert KO mutants, however, aggregation was delayed until 16 h. Large, irregular streams formed, then broke up, forming small mounds. The mound-size defect was not induced when a KO mutant of countin (a master size-regulating gene) was treated with TERT inhibitors, but anti-countin antibodies did rescue size in the tert KO. Although, conditioned medium (CM) from countin mutants failed to rescue size in the tert KO, tert KO CM rescued the countin KO phenotype. These and additional observations indicate that TERT acts upstream of smlA/countin: (i) the observed expression levels of smlA and countin, being respectively lower and higher (than WT) in the tert KO; (ii) the levels of known size-regulation intermediates, glucose (low) and adenosine (high), in the tert mutant, and the size defect’s rescue by supplemented glucose or the adenosine-antagonist, caffeine; (iii) the induction of the size defect in the WT by tert KO CM and TERT inhibitors. The tert KO’s other defects (delayed aggregation, irregular streaming) were associated with changes to cAMP-regulated processes (e.g. chemotaxis, cAMP pulsing) and their regulatory factors (e.g. cAMP; acaA, carA expression). Overexpression of WT tert in the tert KO rescued these defects (and size), and restored a single cAMP signaling centre. Our results indicate that TERT acts in novel, non-canonical and upstream ways, regulating key developmental events in Dictyostelium.

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