The yeast protein RAP1, initially described as a transcriptional regulator, binds in vitro to sequences found in a number of seemingly unrelated genomic loci. These include the silencers at the transcriptionally repressed mating-type genes, the promoters of many genes important for cell growth, and the poly[(cytosine)1-3 adenine] [poly(C1-3A)] repeats of telomeres. Because RAP1 binds in vitro to the poly(C1-3A) repeats of telomeres, it has been suggested that RAP1 may be involved in telomere function in vivo. In order to test this hypothesis, the telomere tract lengths of yeast strains that contained conditionally lethal (ts) rap1 mutations were analyzed. Several rap1ts alleles reduced telomere length in a temperature-dependent manner. In addition, plasmids that contain small, synthetic telomeres with intact or mutant RAP1 binding sites were tested for their ability to function as substrates for poly(C1-3A) addition in vivo. Mutations in the RAP1 binding sites reduced the efficiency of the addition reaction.
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