Rap1 Affects the Length and Heterogeneity of Human Telomeres

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Molecular Biology of the Cell


Telomere length is controlled in part by cis-acting negative regulators that limit telomere extension by telomerase. In budding yeast, the major telomere length regulator scRap1 binds to telomeric DNA and acts to inhibit telomere elongation in cis. Because the human Rap1 ortholog hRap1 does not bind to telomeric DNA directly but is recruited to telomeres by TRF2, we examined its role in telomere length control. The data are consistent with hRap1 being a negative regulator of telomere length, indicating functional conservation. Deletion mapping confirmed that hRap1 is tethered to telomeres through interaction of its C terminus with TRF2. The telomere length phenotypes of hRap1 deletion mutants implicated both the BRCT and Myb domain as protein interaction domains involved in telomere length regulation. By contrast, scRap1 binds to telomeres with its Myb domains and uses its C terminus to recruit the telomere length regulators Rif1 and Rif2. Together, our data show that although the role of Rap1 at telomeres has been largely conserved, the domains of Rap1 have undergone extensive functional changes during eukaryotic evolution. Surprisingly, hRap1 alleles lacking the BRCT domain diminished the heterogeneity of human telomeres, indicating that hRap1 also plays a role in the regulation of telomere length distribution.