Focus of Research:
Maintenance of telomeres requires both DNA replication and telomere ‘capping’ by shelterin. These two processes employ two single-stranded DNA (ssDNA)-binding proteins, replication protein A (RPA) and protection of telomeres 1 (POT1). Although RPA and POT1 each have a critical role at telomeres, how they function in concert is not clear. POT1 ablation leads to activation of the ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3- related (ATR) checkpoint kinase at telomeres1, 2, suggesting that POT1 antagonizes RPA binding to telomeric ssDNA. Unexpectedly, we found that purified POT1 and its functional partner TPP1 are unable to efficiently prevent RPA binding to telomeric ssDNA. In cell extracts, we identified a novel activity that specifically displaces RPA, but not POT1, from telomeric ssDNA. Using purified protein, we show that the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNPA1) recapitulates the RPA displacing activity. The RPA displacing activity is inhibited by the telomeric repeat- containing RNA (TERRA) in early S phase, but is then unleashed in late S phase when TERRA levels decline at telomeres3. Interestingly, TERRA also promotes POT1 binding to telomeric ssDNA by removing hnRNPA1, suggesting that the reaccumulation of TERRA after S phase helps to complete the RPA-to-POT1 switch on telomeric ssDNA. Together, our data suggest that hnRNPA1, TERRA, and POT1 act in concert to displace RPA from telomeric ssDNA following DNA replication, and promote telomere capping to preserve genomic integrity .
Nature. 2011 Mar 24;471(7339):532-6