Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) are highly toxic to the cells and accumulation of DSBs results in several detrimental effects in various cellular processes which can lead to neurological, immunological and developmental disorders. Failure of the repair of DSBs spurs mutagenesis and is a driver of tumorigenesis, thus underscoring the importance of the accurate repair of DSBs. Two major canonical DSB repair pathways are the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) and homologous recombination (HR) pathways. 53BP1 and BRCA1 are the key mediator proteins which coordinate with other components of the DNA repair machinery in the NHEJ and HR pathways respectively, and their exclusive recruitment to DNA breaks/ends potentially decides the choice of repair by either NHEJ or HR. Recently, Rap1 interacting factor 1 has been identified as an important component of the DNA repair pathway which acts downstream of the ATM/53BP1 to inhibit the 5'-3' end resection of broken DNA ends, in-turn facilitating NHEJ repair and inhibiting homology directed repair. Rif1 is conserved from yeast to humans but its function has evolved from telomere length regulation in yeast to the maintenance of genome integrity in mammalian cells. Recently its role in the maintenance of genomic integrity has been expanded to include the regulation of chromatin structure, replication timing and intra-S phase checkpoint. We present a summary of these important findings highlighting the various aspects of Rif1 functions and discuss the key implications for genomic integrity.