TALEN gene knockouts reveal no requirement for the conserved human shelterin protein Rap1 in telomere protection and length regulation.
ABSTRACT: The conserved protein Rap1 functions at telomeres in fungi, protozoa, and vertebrates. Like yeast Rap1, human Rap1 has been implicated in telomere length regulation and repression of nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) at telomeres. However, mouse telomeres lacking Rap1 do not succumb to NHEJ. To determine the functions of human Rap1, we generated several transcription activator-like effector nuclease (TALEN)-mediated human cell lines lacking Rap1. Loss of Rap1 did not affect the other components of shelterin, the modification of telomeric histones, the subnuclear position of telomeres, or the 3' telomeric overhang. Telomeres lacking Rap1 did not show a DNA damage response, NHEJ, or consistent changes in their length, indicating that Rap1 does not have an important function in protection or length regulation of human telomeres. As human Rap1, like its mouse and unicellular orthologs, affects gene expression, we propose that the conservation of Rap1 reflects its role in transcriptional regulation rather than a function at telomeres.
Project description:Telomeres protect chromosomes from end-to-end fusions. In yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the protein Rap1 directly binds telomeric DNA. Here, we use a new conditional allele of RAP1 and show that Rap1 loss results in frequent fusions between telomeres. Analysis of the fusion point with restriction enzymes indicates that fusions occur between telomeres of near wild-type length. Telomere fusions are not observed in cells lacking factors required for nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ), including Lig4 (ligase IV), KU and the Mre11 complex. SAE2 and TEL1 do not affect the frequency of fusions. Together, these results show that Rap1 is essential to block NHEJ between telomeres. Since the presence of Rap1 at telomeres has been conserved through evolution, the establishment of NHEJ suppression by Rap1 could be universal.
Project description:Human telomeres bind shelterin, the six-subunit protein complex that protects chromosome ends from the DNA damage response and regulates telomere length maintenance by telomerase. We used quantitative immunoblotting to determine the abundance and stoichiometry of the shelterin proteins in the chromatin-bound protein fraction of human cells. The abundance of shelterin components was similar in primary and transformed cells and was not correlated with telomere length. The duplex telomeric DNA binding factors in shelterin, TRF1 and TRF2, were sufficiently abundant to cover all telomeric DNA in cells with short telomeres. The TPP1.POT1 heterodimer was present 50-100 copies/telomere, which is in excess of its single-stranded telomeric DNA binding sites, indicating that some of the TPP1.POT1 in shelterin is not associated with the single-stranded telomeric DNA. TRF2 and Rap1 were present at 1:1 stoichiometry as were TPP1 and POT1. The abundance of TIN2 was sufficient to allow each TRF1 and TRF2 to bind to TIN2. Remarkably, TPP1 and POT1 were approximately 10-fold less abundant than their TIN2 partner in shelterin, raising the question of what limits the accumulation of TPP1 x POT1 at telomeres. Finally, we report that a 10-fold reduction in TRF2 affects the regulation of telomere length but not the protection of telomeres in tumor cell lines.
Project description:Shelterin is an essential telomeric protein complex that prevents DNA damage signaling and DNA repair at mammalian chromosome ends. Here we report on the role of the TRF2-interacting factor Rap1, a conserved shelterin subunit of unknown function. We removed Rap1 from mouse telomeres either through gene deletion or by replacing TRF2 with a mutant that does not bind Rap1. Rap1 was dispensable for the essential functions of TRF2--repression of ATM kinase signaling and nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ)--and mice lacking telomeric Rap1 were viable and fertile. However, Rap1 was critical for the repression of homology-directed repair (HDR), which can alter telomere length. The data reveal that HDR at telomeres can take place in the absence of DNA damage foci and underscore the functional compartmentalization within shelterin.
Project description:Eukaryotic cells distinguish their chromosome ends from accidental DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by packaging them into protective structures called telomeres that prevent DNA repair/recombination activities. Here we investigate the role of key telomeric proteins in protecting budding yeast telomeres from degradation. We show that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae shelterin-like proteins Rif1, Rif2, and Rap1 inhibit nucleolytic processing at both de novo and native telomeres during G1 and G2 cell cycle phases, with Rif2 and Rap1 showing the strongest effects. Also Yku prevents telomere resection in G1, independently of its role in non-homologous end joining. Yku and the shelterin-like proteins have additive effects in inhibiting DNA degradation at G1 de novo telomeres, where Yku plays the major role in preventing initiation, whereas Rif1, Rif2, and Rap1 act primarily by limiting extensive resection. In fact, exonucleolytic degradation of a de novo telomere is more efficient in yku70Delta than in rif2Delta G1 cells, but generation of ssDNA in Yku-lacking cells is limited to DNA regions close to the telomere tip. This limited processing is due to the inhibitory action of Rap1, Rif1, and Rif2, as their inactivation allows extensive telomere resection not only in wild-type but also in yku70Delta G1 cells. Finally, Rap1 and Rif2 prevent telomere degradation by inhibiting MRX access to telomeres, which are also protected from the Exo1 nuclease by Yku. Thus, chromosome end degradation is controlled by telomeric proteins that specifically inhibit the action of different nucleases.
Project description:DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) is a double-strand breaks repair complex, the subunits of which (KU and DNA-PKcs) are paradoxically present at mammalian telomeres. Telomere fusion has been reported in cells lacking these proteins, raising two questions: how is DNA-PK prevented from initiating classical ligase IV (LIG4)-dependent non-homologous end-joining (C-NHEJ) at telomeres and how is the backup end-joining (EJ) activity (B-NHEJ) that operates at telomeres under conditions of C-NHEJ deficiency controlled? To address these questions, we have investigated EJ using plasmid substrates bearing double-stranded telomeric tracks and human cell extracts with variable C-NHEJ or B-NHEJ activity. We found that (1) TRF2/RAP1 prevents C-NHEJ-mediated end fusion at the initial DNA-PK end binding and activation step and (2) DNA-PK counteracts a potent LIG4-independent EJ mechanism. Thus, telomeres are protected against EJ by a lock with two bolts. These results account for observations with mammalian models and underline the importance of alternative non-classical EJ pathways for telomere fusions in cells.
Project description:Telomeres, the nucleoprotein structures at the ends of linear chromosomes, promote genome stability by distinguishing chromosome termini from DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Cells possess two principal pathways for DSB repair: homologous recombination and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Several studies have implicated TRF2 in the protection of telomeres from NHEJ, but the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. Here, we show that TRF2 inhibits NHEJ, in part, by recruiting human RAP1 to telomeres. Heterologous targeting of hRAP1 to telomeric DNA was sufficient to bypass the need for TRF2 in protecting telomeric DNA from NHEJ in vitro. On expanding these studies in cells, we find that recruitment of hRAP1 to telomeres prevents chromosome fusions caused by the loss of TRF2/hRAP1 from chromosome ends despite activation of a DNA damage response. These results provide the first evidence that hRAP1 inhibits NHEJ at mammalian telomeres and identify hRAP1 as a mediator of genome stability.
Project description:The shelterin proteins protect telomeres against activation of the DNA damage checkpoints and recombinational repair. We show here that a dimer of the shelterin subunit TRF2 wraps ? 90 bp of DNA through several lysine and arginine residues localized around its homodimerization domain. The expression of a wrapping-deficient TRF2 mutant, named Top-less, alters telomeric DNA topology, decreases the number of terminal loops (t-loops), and triggers the ATM checkpoint, while still protecting telomeres against non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). In Top-less cells, the protection against NHEJ is alleviated if the expression of the TRF2-interacting protein RAP1 is reduced. We conclude that a distinctive topological state of telomeric DNA, controlled by the TRF2-dependent DNA wrapping and linked to t-loop formation, inhibits both ATM activation and NHEJ. The presence of RAP1 at telomeres appears as a backup mechanism to prevent NHEJ when topology-mediated telomere protection is impaired.
Project description:The yeast Rap1 protein plays an important role in transcriptional silencing and in telomere length homeostasis. Rap1 mediates silencing at the HM loci and at telomeres by recruiting the Sir3 and Sir4 proteins to chromatin via a Rap1 C-terminal domain, which also recruits the telomere length regulators, Rif1 and Rif2. We report the 1.85 A resolution crystal structure of the Rap1 C-terminus, which adopts an all-helical fold with no structural homologues. The structure was used to engineer surface mutations in Rap1, and the effects of these mutations on silencing and telomere length regulation were assayed in vivo. Our surprising finding was that there is no overlap between mutations affecting mating-type and telomeric silencing, suggesting that Rap1 plays distinct roles in silencing at the silent mating-type loci and telomeres. We also found novel Rap1 phenotypes and new separation-of-function mutants, which provide new tools for studying Rap1 function. Yeast two-hybrid studies were used to determine how specific mutations affect recruitment of Sir3, Rif1, and Rif2. A comparison of the yeast two-hybrid and functional data reveals patterns of protein interactions that correlate with each Rap1 phenotype. We find that Sir3 interactions are important for telomeric silencing, but not mating type silencing, and that Rif1 and Rif2 interactions are important in different subsets of telomeric length mutants. Our results show that the role of Rap1 in silencing differs between the HM loci and the telomeres and offer insight into the interplay between HM silencing, telomeric silencing, and telomere length regulation. These findings suggest a model in which competition and multiple recruitment events modulate silencing and telomere length regulation.
Project description:CRISPR/Cas9 technology enables efficient loss-of-function analysis of human genes using somatic cells. Studies of essential genes, however, require conditional knockout (KO) cells. Here, we describe the generation of inducible CRISPR KO human cell lines for the subunits of the telosome/shelterin complex, TRF1, TRF2, RAP1, TIN2, TPP1 and POT1, which directly interact with telomeres or can bind to telomeres through association with other subunits. Homozygous inactivation of several subunits is lethal in mice, and most loss-of-function studies of human telomere regulators have relied on RNA interference-mediated gene knockdown, which suffers its own limitations. Our inducible CRISPR approach has allowed us to more expediently obtain large numbers of KO cells in which essential telomere regulators have been inactivated for biochemical and molecular studies. Our systematic analysis revealed functional differences between human and mouse telomeric proteins in DNA damage responses, telomere length and metabolic control, providing new insights into how human telomeres are maintained.
Project description:Telomere elongation through telomerase enables chromosome survival during cellular proliferation. The conserved multifunctional shelterin complex associates with telomeres to coordinate multiple telomere activities, including telomere elongation by telomerase. Similar to the human shelterin, fission yeast shelterin is composed of telomeric sequence-specific double- and single-stranded DNA-binding proteins, Taz1 and Pot1, respectively, bridged by Rap1, Poz1, and Tpz1. Here, we report the crystal structure of the fission yeast Tpz1475-508-Poz1-Rap1467-496 complex that provides the structural basis for shelterin bridge assembly. Biochemical analyses reveal that shelterin bridge assembly is a hierarchical process in which Tpz1 binding to Poz1 elicits structural changes in Poz1, allosterically promoting Rap1 binding to Poz1. Perturbation of the cooperative Tpz1-Poz1-Rap1 assembly through mutation of the "conformational trigger" in Poz1 leads to unregulated telomere lengthening. Furthermore, we find that the human shelterin counterparts TPP1-TIN2-TRF2 also assemble hierarchically, indicating cooperativity as a conserved driving force for shelterin assembly.