Dynamics of telomeric repeat-containing RNA expression in early embryonic cleavage stages with regards to maternal age

Aging (Albany NY). 2020 Aug 29;12(16):15906-15917. doi: 10.18632/aging.103922. Epub 2020 Aug 29.


Telomeres are transcribed into long non-coding RNAs known as Telomeric Repeat-Containing RNA (TERRA). They have been shown to be essential regulators of telomeres and to act as epigenomic modulators at extra-telomeric sites. However the role of TERRA during early embryonic development has never been investigated. Here, we show that TERRA is expressed in murine and bovine early development following a wave pattern. It starts at 4-cell stage, reaching a maximum at the 16-cell followed by a decline at the morula and blastocyst stages. Moreover, TERRA expression is not affected by increasing oocyte donor age whereas telomere length does. This indicates that TERRA expression is independent of the telomere length in early development. Our findings anticipate an essential role of TERRA in early stages of development and this might be useful in the future for a better understanding of age related female infertility.

Keywords: TERRA; early embryonic development; oocytes; reproductive aging; telomere length.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cleavage Stage, Ovum / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Embryo Culture Techniques
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Male
  • Maternal Age*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oocyte Donation
  • Telomere / genetics
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Telomere Homeostasis*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Dmrt2 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors