TRF2 recruits RTEL1 to telomeres in S phase to promote t-loop unwinding

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Summary The helicase RTEL1 promotes t-loop unwinding and suppresses telomere fragility to maintain the integrity of vertebrate telomeres. An interaction between RTEL1 and PCNA is important to prevent telomere fragility, but how RTEL1 engages with the telomere to promote t-loop unwinding is unclear. Here, we establish that the shelterin protein TRF2 recruits RTEL1 to telomeres in S phase, which is required to prevent catastrophic t-loop processing by structure-specific nucleases. We show that the TRF2-RTEL1 interaction is mediated by a metal-coordinating C4C4 motif in RTEL1, which is compromised by the Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome (HHS) mutation, RTEL1R1264H. Conversely, we define a TRF2I124D substitution mutation within the TRFH domain of TRF2, which eliminates RTEL1 binding and phenocopies the RTEL1R1264H mutation, giving rise to aberrant t-loop excision, telomere length heterogeneity, and loss of the telomere as a circle. These results implicate TRF2 in the recruitment of RTEL1 to facilitate t-loop disassembly at telomeres in S phase.

Journal details

Journal Molecular Cell
Volume 57
Issue number 4
Pages 622-635
Available online
Publication date


Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author