Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) is a key component of the telomerase complex. By lengthening telomeres in DNA strands, TERT increases senescent cell lifespan. Mice that lack TERT age much faster and exhibit age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes and neurodegeneration. Accelerated telomere shortening in both human and animal models has been documented in conditions associated with insulin resistance, including T2DM. We investigated the role of TERT, in regulating cellular glucose utilisation by using the myoblastoma cell line C2C12, as well as primary mouse and human skeletal muscle cells. Inhibition of TERT expression or activity by using siRNA (100nM) or specific inhibitors (100nM) reduced basal 2-deoxyglucose uptake by ~50%, in all cell types, without altering insulin responsiveness. In contrast, TERT over-expression increased glucose uptake by 3.25-fold. In C2C12 cells TERT protein was mostly localised intracellularly and stimulation of cells with insulin induced translocation to the plasma membrane. Furthermore, co-immunoprecipitation experiments in C2C12 cells showed that TERT was constitutively associated with glucose transporters (GLUTs) 1, 4 and 12 via an insulin insensitive interaction that also did not require intact PI3-K and mTOR pathways. Collectively, these findings identified a novel extra-nuclear function of TERT that regulates an insulin-insensitive pathway involved in glucose uptake in human and mouse skeletal muscle cells.