Exercice boosts telomere transcription


In collaboration with the group of Marc Francaux and Louise Deldicque (Institute of Neurosciences, UCL), the team of Anabelle Decottignies identified a new regulatory mechanism for the transcription of telomeres, the DNA sequences that are located at the very end of our chromosomes and get eroded with age, thereby triggering senescence of cells and tissues. Mechanisms of telomere protection exist and their stimulation may possibly protect against aging-related dysfunctions of tissues. A few years ago, it became evident that telomeres are not "silent" but transcribed into non-coding RNA species, dubbed TERRA, that play multiple protective roles at chromosome ends.

The AMPK/PGC-1a/NRF1 ​axis is involved in telomere transcription. These results were obtained from analyses of muscle biopsies coming from 10 volunteers before and after cycling exercise. Molecular mechanisms involved in the process were studied in cell cultures.

The research teams from both the de Duve Institute and the Institute of Neurosciences showed that physical exercise boosts TERRA production and, therefore, exercise is likely to contribute to the renewal of telomere protection molecules. Actors involved in this mechanism include the AMPK-dependent metabolic pathway, PGC-1a regulator and NRF1 (Nuclear Respiratory Factor 1) transcription factor. Of note, the AMPK/PGC-1a axis is also involved in the response to caloric restriction, a well-established condition known to protect against cellular aging.

From left to right - top: Florian Poulain - Harikleia Episkopou - Eva Majerova - Aurélie Diman - Anabelle Decottignies Bottom: Nikenza Viceconte

Article describing this research

Nuclear respiratory factor 1 and endurance exercise promote human telomere transcription.

Aurélie Diman*, Joanna Boros*, Florian Poulain, Julie Rodriguez, Marin Purnelle, Harikleia Episkopou, Luc Bertrand, Marc Francaux, Louise Deldicque, Anabelle Decottignies.

Science Advances 2016 July 27 – 2 :e160031

In the press

The Scientist - Exercise Boosts Telomere Transcription - 27/07/2016

Time magazine - How Exercise Keeps Your DNA Young – 27/07/2016