RAP1 is a telomere protein that is well conserved from protozoa to mammals. It plays important roles in chromosome end protection, telomere length control, and gene expression/silencing at both telomeric and nontelomeric loci. Interaction with different partners is an important mechanism by which RAP1 executes its different functions in yeast. The RAP1 ortholog in Trypanosoma brucei is essential for variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) monoallelic expression, an important aspect of antigenic variation, where T. brucei regularly switches its major surface antigen, VSG, to evade the host immune response. Like other RAP1 orthologs, T. brucei RAP1 (TbRAP1) has conserved functional domains, including BRCA1 C terminus (BRCT), Myb, MybLike, and RAP1 C terminus (RCT). To study functions of various TbRAP1 domains, we established a strain in which one endogenous allele of TbRAP1 is flanked by loxP repeats, enabling its conditional deletion by Cre-mediated recombination. We replaced the other TbRAP1 allele with various mutant alleles lacking individual functional domains and examined their nuclear localization and protein interaction abilities. The N terminus, BRCT, and RCT of TbRAP1 are required for normal protein levels, while the Myb and MybLike domains are essential for normal cell growth. Additionally, the Myb domain of TbRAP1 is required for its interaction with T. brucei TTAGGG repeat-binding factor (TbTRF), while the BRCT domain is required for its self-interaction. Furthermore, the TbRAP1 MybLike domain contains a bipartite nuclear localization signal that is required for its interaction with importin α and its nuclear localization. Interestingly, RAP1's self-interaction and the interaction between RAP1 and TRF are conserved from kinetoplastids to mammals. However, details of the interaction interfaces have changed throughout evolution.
Afrin, Marjia; Kishmiri, Hanadi; Sandhu, Ranjodh; Rabbani, M. A.G.; and Li, Bibo, "Trypanosoma brucei RAP1 Has Essential Functional Domains That Are Required for Different Protein Interactions" (2020). Biological, Geological, and Environmental Faculty Publications. 245.
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