The Saccharomyces cerevisiae Rap1 protein binds with high affinity to sites within the poly(C(1-3)A) tracts at telomeres, where it plays a role in both telomere length regulation and the initiation of telomeric silencing. Rap1p initiates silencing at telomeres by interacting through its carboxy-terminal domain with Sir3p and Sir4p, both of which are required for repression. This same domain of Rap1p also negatively regulates telomere elongation, through an unknown mechanism. We have identified a new Rap1-interacting factor (Rif2p) that plays a role in telomere length regulation. Rif2p has considerable functional similarities with a Rap1p-interacting factor (Rif1p) identified previously. Mutations in RIF1 or RIF2 (unlike mutations in the silencing genes SIR3 and SIR4) result in moderate telomere elongation and improved telomeric silencing. However, deletion of both RIF1 and RIF2 in the same cell results in a dramatic increase in telomere length, similar to that seen with a carboxy-terminal truncation of Rap1p. In addition, overexpression of either RIF1 or RIF2 decreases telomere length, and co-overexpression of these proteins can reverse the telomere elongation effect of overexpression of the Rap1p carboxyl terminus. Finally, we show that Rif1p and Rif2p can interact with each other in vivo. These results suggest that telomere length regulation is mediated by a protein complex consisting of Rif1p and Rif2p, each of which has distinct regulatory functions. One role of Rap1p in telomere length regulation is to recruit these proteins to the telomeres.
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