© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome (HHS) is a severe form of Dyskeratosis congenita characterized by developmental defects, bone marrow failure and immunodeficiency and has been associated with telomere dysfunction. Recently, mutations in Regulator of Telomere ELongation helicase 1 (RTEL1), a helicase first identified in Mus musculus as being responsible for the maintenance of long telomeres, have been identified in several HHS patients. Here we show that RTEL1 is required for the export and the correct cytoplasmic trafficking of the small nuclear (sn) RNA pre-U2, a component of the major spliceosome complex. RTEL1-HHS cells show abnormal subcellular partitioning of pre-U2, defects in the recycling of ribonucleotide proteins (RNP) in the cytoplasm and splicing defects. While most of these phenotypes can be suppressed by re-expressing the wild-type protein in RTEL1-HHS cells, expression of RTEL1 mutated variants in immortalized cells provokes cytoplasmic mislocalizations of pre-U2 and other RNP components, as well as splicing defects, thus phenocopying RTEL1-HHS cellular defects. Strikingly, expression of a cytoplasmic form of RTEL1 is sufficient to correct RNP mislocalizations both in RTEL1-HHS cells and in cells expressing nuclear mutated forms of RTEL1. This work unravels completely unanticipated roles for RTEL1 in RNP trafficking and strongly suggests that defects in RNP biogenesis pathways contribute to the pathology of HHS.