Dyskerin is a nucleolar protein, altered in dyskeratosis congenita, which carries out two separate functions, both fundamental for proliferating cells. One function is the pseudo-uridylation of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) molecules, necessary for their processing, and the other is the stabilization of the telomerase RNA component, necessary for telomerase activity. A significant feature of dyskeratosis congenita is an increased susceptibility to cancer; so far, however, no data have been reported on dyskerin changes in human tumours. Therefore, in this study, the distribution of dyskerin in a large series of human tumours from the lung, breast, and colon, as well as from B-cell lymphomas, was analysed by immunohistochemistry. Dyskerin proved never to be lost or delocalized outside the nucleolus. A quantitative analysis of dyskerin mRNA expression was then performed in 70 breast carcinomas together with the evaluation of telomerase RNA component levels and rRNA pseudo-uridylation. Dyskerin mRNA levels were highly variable and directly associated with both telomerase RNA component levels and rRNA pseudo-uridylation. Dyskerin gene silencing in the MCF-7 human breast carcinoma cell line reduced telomerase activity and rRNA pseudo-uridylation. Significantly, patients with low dyskerin expression were characterized by a better clinical outcome than those with a high dyskerin level. These data indicate that dyskerin is not lost in human cancers and that the levels of its expression and function are associated with tumour progression.
- rRNA processing