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Principal Investigator: Ahmed, Shawn Cameron
Institute Receiving Award Univ Of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Location Chapel Hill, NC
Grant Number R01ES035777
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 15 Mar 2024 to 28 Feb 2029
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Summary Interstitial Telomere Sequences (ITS tracts) are degenerate telomere repeat tracts found on metazoan chromosome arms whose functional significance is not known. We propose to develop a new paradigm in the field of telomere biology, by demonstrating a telomere binding protein in somatic cells regulates a suite of stress response and longevity genes that possess introns with ITS tracts. We discovered that ITS tracts are enriched in the introns of C. elegans genes, and this is also true in humans. We identified hundreds of C. elegans genes with ITS tracts that are bound by a telomere binding protein. The vast majority of these genes are upregulated in response to environmental stresses and in mutants that are long-lived and stress resistant. We discovered environmental stresses that alter localization of telomere binding proteins to telomeres of embryos and as well as nuclear localization in somatic cells of L4 larvae. We propose to characterize how environmental stresses and longevity pathways epigenetically reprogram the expression of genes whose introns possess ITS tracts, in part by remodeling the structures of ITS tracts of genes with roles in stress resistance and longevity. Preliminary data indicate that mutating the single-stranded telomere binding protein pot-1 impedes binding of all single-stranded telomere binding proteins to telomeres. Moreover, pot-1 mutation also induces moderate longevity, and both longevity and disrupted telomere capping phenotypes can be transmitted by pot- 1 mutant gametes to multiple generations of progeny that possess wild type POT-1 protein. We propose to study the heritable consequences of telomere uncapping in pot-1 mutant germ cells on expression of genes with ITS tracts. We will ask if longevity of long-lived mutants, including pot-1 mutants, grown with or without arsenic is modified by RNAi silencing of ITS tracts or by re-wiring the expression of dsDNA telomere binding proteins. We will assess the consequences of telomere uncapping defects of pot-1 mutants as well as arsenic or copper on telomere stability in the absence of telomerase, on telomere mutations and on T-loop formation. This work will help to develop a model created by Charles Darwin and Jean-Baptiste Lamark, who hypothesized that environmental stresses perceived by parents might modify germ cells in a manner that would improve fitness of their children. This project may reveal that telomere capping as a malleable epigenetic factor that can be transmitted from parent to child and is coupled to regulation of genes with ITS tracts in their introns, in a manner that modulates longevity and resistance to environmental stress in future generations. However, because somatic telomere length shortens as humans age, and because irreparable DNA damages accumulate at telomeres in the context of human aging, insight into roles of telomere uncapping, arsenic or copper in modulating expression of stress response and longevity genes with ITS tracts may be relevant to understanding how normal human aging occurs and can be modulated.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 09 - Genome Integrity
Secondary: 03 - Carcinogenesis/Cell Transformation
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Michelle Heacock
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