A genome-wide association study was conducted to identify expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) for human telomerase.
We tested the genetic associations of nucleotide variants with expression of the genes encoding human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and telomerase RNA components (TERC) in lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from 373 Europeans.
Our results revealed 6 eQTLs associated with hTERT (P < 5 × 10–8). One eQTL (rs17755753) was located in the intron 1 of the gene encoding R-spondin-3 (RSPO3), a well-known Wnt signaling regulator. Transcriptome-wide association analysis for these eQTLs revealed their additional associations with the expression of 29 genes (P < 4.75 × 10–6), including prickle planar cell polarity protein 2 (PRICKLE2) gene important for the Wnt signaling pathway. This concurs with previous studies in which significant expressional relationships between hTERT and some genes (β-catenin and Wnt-3a) in the Wnt signaling pathway have been observed.
This study suggested 6 novel eQTLs for hTERT and the association of hTERT with the Wnt signaling pathway. Further studies are needed to understand their underlying mechanisms to improve our understanding of the role of hTERT in cancer.