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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(1), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19010274

Telomeric Repeat-Containing RNAs (TERRA) Decrease in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck Is Associated with Worsened Clinical Outcome

1
Department of Biology and Biotechnology, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
2
Department of Otorhinolaryngology, IRCCS San Matteo University Hospital Foundation, 27100 Pavia, Italy
3
Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
4
Division of Medical Oncology, IRCCS San Matteo University Hospital Foundation, 27100 Pavia, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 December 2017 / Revised: 11 January 2018 / Accepted: 13 January 2018 / Published: 17 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Role of Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer and Aging)
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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. View Full-Text
Keywords: telomere transcription; TERRA; head and neck squamous cell carcinoma telomere transcription; TERRA; head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
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Vitelli, V.; Falvo, P.; G. Nergadze, S.; Santagostino, M.; Khoriauli, L.; Pellanda, P.; Bertino, G.; Occhini, A.; Benazzo, M.; Morbini, P.; Paulli, M.; Porta, C.; Giulotto, E. Telomeric Repeat-Containing RNAs (TERRA) Decrease in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck Is Associated with Worsened Clinical Outcome. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 274.

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