Functional Diversification of Replication Protein A Paralogs and Telomere Length Maintenance in Arabidopsis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Replication protein A (RPA) is essential for many facets of DNA metabolism. The RPA gene family expanded in Arabidopsis thaliana with five phylogenetically distinct RPA1 subunits (RPA1A-E), two RPA2 (RPA2A and B), and two RPA3 (RPA3A and B). RPA1 paralogs exhibit partial redundancy and functional specialization in DNA replication (RPA1B and RPA1D), repair (RPA1C and RPA1E), and meiotic recombination (RPA1A and RPA1C). Here, we show that RPA subunits also differentially impact telomere length set point. Loss of RPA1 resets bulk telomeres at a shorter length, with a functional hierarchy for replication group over repair and meiosis group RPA1 subunits. Plants lacking RPA2A, but not RPA2B, harbor short telomeres similar to the replication group. Telomere shortening does not correlate with decreased telomerase activity or deprotection of chromosome ends in rpa mutants. However, in vitro assays show that RPA1B2A3B unfolds telomeric G-quadruplexes known to inhibit replications fork progression. We also found that ATR deficiency can partially rescue short telomeres in rpa2a mutants, although plants exhibit defects in growth and development. Unexpectedly, the telomere shortening phenotype of rpa2a mutants is completely abolished in plants lacking the RTEL1 helicase. RTEL1 has been implicated in a variety of nucleic acid transactions, including suppression of homologous recombination. Thus, the lack of telomere shortening in rpa2a mutants upon RTEL1 deletion suggests that telomere replication defects incurred by loss of RPA may be bypassed by homologous recombination. Taken together, these findings provide new insight into how RPA cooperates with replication and recombination machinery to sustain telomeric DNA.

published proceedings

  • Genetics

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Aklilu, B. B., Peurois, F., Saintom, C., Culligan, K. M., Kobbe, D., Leasure, C., ... Shippen, D. E.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Aklilu, Behailu B||Peurois, François||Saintomé, Carole||Culligan, Kevin M||Kobbe, Daniela||Leasure, Catherine||Chung, Michael||Cattoor, Morgan||Lynch, Ryan||Sampson, Lauren||Fatora, John||Shippen, Dorothy E

publication date

  • August 2020