TERRA, a Multifaceted Regulator of Telomerase Activity at Telomeres

J Mol Biol. 2020 Jul 10;432(15):4232-4243. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2020.02.004. Epub 2020 Feb 19.


In eukaryotes, telomeres are repetitive sequences at the end of chromosomes, which are maintained in a constitutive heterochromatin state. It is now known that telomeres can be actively transcribed, leading to the production of a telomeric repeat-containing noncoding RNA called TERRA. Due to its sequence complementarity to the telomerase template, it was suggested early on that TERRA could be an inhibitor of telomerase. Since then, TERRA has been shown to be involved in heterochromatin formation at telomeres, to invade telomeric dsDNA and form R-loops, and even to promote telomerase recruitment at short telomeres. All these functions depend on the diverse capacities of this lncRNA to bind various cofactors, act as a scaffold, and promote higher-order complexes in cells. In this review, it will be highlighted as to how these properties of TERRA work together to regulate telomerase activity at telomeres.

Keywords: TERRA; lncRNA; telomerase; telomeres.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • R-Loop Structures
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / chemistry
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Telomerase / metabolism*
  • Telomere / chemistry
  • Telomere / metabolism*


  • RNA, Long Noncoding
  • Telomerase