Bone marrow skeletal stem/progenitor cell defects in dyskeratosis congenita and telomere biology disorders

Arun Balakumaran, Prasun J. Mishra, Edyta Pawelczyk, Sayuri Yoshizawa, Brian J. Sworder, Natasha Cherman, Sergei A. Kuznetsov, Paolo Bianco, Neelam Giri, Sharon A. Savage, Glenn Merlino, Bogdan Dumitriu, Cynthia E. Dunbar, Neal S. Young, Blanche P. Alter, Pamela G. Robey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) is an inherited multisystem disorder, characterized by oral leukoplakia, nail dystrophy, andabnormal skin pigmentation, as well as high rates ofbone marrow (BM) failure, solid tumors, and other medical problems such as osteopenia. DC and telomere biology disorders (collectively referred to as TBD here) are caused by germline mutations in telomere biology genes leading to very short telomeres and limited proliferative potential of hematopoietic stem cells. We found that skeletal stem cells (SSCs) within the BM stromal cell population (BMSCs, also known as BM-derived mesenchymal stem cells), may contribute to the hematologic phenotype. TBD-BMSCs exhibited reduced clonogenicity, spontaneous differentiation into adipocytes and fibrotic cells, and increased senescence in vitro. Upon in vivo transplantation into mice, TBD-BMSCs failed to form bone or support hematopoiesis, unlike normal BMSCs. TERC reduction (a TBD-associated gene) in normal BMSCs by small interfering TERC-RNA (siTERC-RNA) recapitulated the TBD-BMSC phenotype by reducing proliferation and secondary colony-forming efficiency, and by accelerating senescence in vitro. Microarray profiles of control and siTERC-BMSCs showed decreased hematopoietic factors at the messenger RNA level and decreased secretion of factors at the protein level. These findings are consistent with defects in SSCs/BMSCs contributing to BM failure in TBD. (Blood. 2015;125(5):793-802).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-802
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 29 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • BMSCs from patients with tbds are abnormal and unable to support hematopoiesis
  • Knockdown of terc with sirna recapitulates the tbd-bmsc phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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