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Reviewed March 2014
What is the official name of the TERC gene?
The official name of this gene is “telomerase RNA component.”
TERC is the gene's official symbol. The TERC gene is also known by other names, listed below.
Read more about gene names and symbols on the About page.
What is the normal function of the TERC gene?
The TERC gene provides instructions for making one component of an enzyme called telomerase. Telomerase maintains structures called telomeres, which are composed of repeated segments of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres protect chromosomes from abnormally sticking together or breaking down (degrading). In most cells, telomeres become progressively shorter as the cell divides. After a certain number of cell divisions, the telomeres become so short that they trigger the cell to stop dividing or to self-destruct (undergo apoptosis). Telomerase counteracts the shortening of telomeres by adding small repeated segments of DNA to the ends of chromosomes each time the cell divides.
In most types of cells, telomerase is either undetectable or active at very low levels. However, telomerase is highly active in cells that divide rapidly, such as cells that line the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, cells in bone marrow, and cells of the developing fetus. Telomerase allows these cells to divide many times without becoming damaged or undergoing apoptosis. Telomerase is also abnormally active in cancer cells, which grow and divide without control or order.
The telomerase enzyme consists of two major components that work together. The component produced from the TERC gene is known as hTR. The hTR component is an RNA molecule, a chemical cousin of DNA. It provides a template for creating the repeated sequence of DNA that telomerase adds to the ends of chromosomes. The other major component of telomerase, which is produced from a gene called TERT, is known as hTERT. The function of hTERT is to add the new DNA segment to chromosome ends.
Does the TERC gene share characteristics with other genes?
The TERC gene belongs to a family of genes called small miscellaneous ncRNAs (small miscellaneous ncRNAs).
A gene family is a group of genes that share important characteristics. Classifying individual genes into families helps researchers describe how genes are related to each other. For more information, see What are gene families? in the Handbook.
How are changes in the TERC gene related to health conditions?
Where is the TERC gene located?
Cytogenetic Location: 3q26
Molecular Location on chromosome 3: base pairs 169,764,610 to 169,765,060
The TERC gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 3 at position 26.
More precisely, the TERC gene is located from base pair 169,764,610 to base pair 169,765,060 on chromosome 3.
See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about TERC?
You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about TERC helpful.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for the TERC gene or gene products?
See How are genetic conditions and genes named? in the Handbook.
Where can I find general information about genes?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding TERC?
anemia ; aplastic anemia ; apoptosis ; bone marrow ; cancer ; cell ; chromosome ; DNA ; enzyme ; familial ; fetus ; fibrosis ; gastrointestinal ; gene ; idiopathic ; leukoplakia ; molecule ; mucosa ; pigmentation ; pulmonary ; risk factors ; RNA ; sporadic ; telomere ; template
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (14 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.