RAP1 Is Essential for Silencing Telomeric Variant Surface Glycoprotein Genes in Trypanosoma brucei

Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences, Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Diseases, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH 44115, USA.
Cell (Impact Factor: 33.12). 05/2009; 137(1):99-109. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2009.01.037
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Trypanosoma brucei expresses variant surface glycoprotein (VSG) genes in a strictly monoallelic fashion in its mammalian hosts, but it is unclear how this important virulence mechanism is enforced. Telomere position effect, an epigenetic phenomenon, has been proposed to play a critical role in VSG regulation, yet no telomeric protein has been identified whose disruption led to VSG derepression. We now identify tbRAP1 as an intrinsic component of the T. brucei telomere complex and a major regulator for silencing VSG expression sites (ESs). Knockdown of tbRAP1 led to derepression of all VSGs in silent ESs, but not VSGs located elsewhere, and resulted in stronger derepression of genes located within 10 kb from telomeres than genes located further upstream. This graduated silencing pattern suggests that telomere integrity plays a key role in tbRAP1-dependent silencing and VSG regulation.

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Trypanosoma brucei causes human African trypanosomiasis and regularly switches its major surface antigen, VSG, in the bloodstream of its mammalian host to evade the host immune response. VSGs are expressed exclusively from subtelomeric loci, and we have previously shown that telomere proteins TbTIF2 and TbRAP1 play important roles in VSG switching and VSG silencing regulation, respectively. We now discover that the telomere duplex DNA-binding factor, TbTRF, also plays a critical role in VSG switching regulation, as a transient depletion of TbTRF leads to significantly more VSG switching events. We solved the NMR structure of the DNA-binding Myb domain of TbTRF, which folds into a canonical helix-loop-helix structure that is conserved to the Myb domains of mammalian TRF proteins. The TbTRF Myb domain tolerates well the bulky J base in T. brucei telomere DNA, and the DNA-binding affinity of TbTRF is not affected by the presence of J both in vitro and in vivo. In addition, we find that point mutations in TbTRF Myb that significantly reduced its in vivo telomere DNA-binding affinity also led to significantly increased VSG switching frequencies, indicating that the telomere DNA-binding activity is critical for TbTRF's role in VSG switching regulation.
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    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. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: Replication protein A-1 (RPA-1) is a single-stranded DNA-binding protein involved in DNA metabolism. We previously demonstrated the interaction between LaRPA-1 and telomeric DNA. Here, we expressed and purified truncated mutants of LaRPA-1 and used circular dichroism measurements and molecular dynamics simulations to demonstrate that the tertiary structure of LaRPA-1 differs from human and yeast RPA-1. LaRPA-1 interacts with telomeric ssDNA via its N-terminal OB-fold domain, whereas RPA from higher eukaryotes show different binding modes to ssDNA. Our results show that LaRPA-1 is evolutionary distinct from other RPA-1 proteins and can potentially be used for targeting trypanosomatid telomeres. Copyright © 2014 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    FEBS Letters 11/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.febslet.2014.11.005 · 3.34 Impact Factor

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