Transcription pause release from gene promoters has been recognized to be a critical point for transcriptional regulation in higher eukaryotes. Recent studies suggest that regulatory RNAs are extensively involved in transcriptional control, which may enlist various RNA binding proteins. We recently showed a key role of SRSF2, a member of the SR family of splicing regulators, in binding to promoter-associated small RNA to mediate transcription pause release, a regulatory strategy akin to the function of the HIV Tat protein via binding to the TAR element in nascent RNA to activate transcription. In this report, we further dissect the structural requirement for SRSF2 to function as a transcription activator and extend the analysis to multiple SR and hnRNP proteins by using the MS2 tethering strategy. Our results reveal that SRSF2 is a unique SR protein that activates transcription in a position-dependent manner while three other SR proteins enhance translation in a position-independent fashion. In contrast, multiple hnRNP proteins appear to negatively influence mRNA levels, especially when tethered in the gene body. These findings suggest broad participation of RNA binding proteins in diverse aspects of regulated gene expression at both the transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels in mammalian cells.
In Drosophila, dosage compensation is mediated by the MSL complex, which binds numerous sites on the X chromosome in males and enhances the transcriptional rate of a substantial number of X-linked genes. We have determined that topoisomerase II (Topo II) is enriched on dosage compensated genes, to which it is recruited by association with the MSL complex, in excess of the amount that is present on autosomal genes with similar transcription levels. Using a plasmid model, we show that Topo II is required for proper dosage compensation and that compensated chromatin is topologically different from non-compensated chromatin. This difference, which is not the result of the enhanced transcription level due of X-linked genes and which represents a structural modification intrinsic to the DNA of compensated chromatin, requires the function of Topo II. Our results suggest that Topo II is an integral part of the mechanistic basis of dosage compensation.
The proto-oncogene c-myc encodes a basic helix-loop-helix leucine zipper transcription factor (c-Myc). c-Myc plays a crucial role in cell growth and proliferation. Here, we examined how expression of c-Myc target genes and cell proliferation depend on variation of c-Myc protein levels. We show that proliferation rates, the number of cells in S-phase, and cell size increased in a dose-dependent manner in response to increasing c-Myc levels. Likewise, the mRNA levels of c-Myc responsive genes steadily increased with rising c-Myc levels. Strikingly, steady-state mRNA levels of c-Myc target genes did not saturate even at highest c-Myc concentrations. These characteristics predestine c-Myc levels as a cellular rheostat for the control and fine-tuning of cell proliferation and growth rates.
Exonuclease (exo) III was used as a probe of the Escherichia coli RNA polymerase (RNAP) ternary elongation complex (TEC) downstream border. In the absence of NTPs, RNAP appears to stall primarily in a post-translocated state and to return slowly to a pre-translocated state. Exo III mapping, therefore, appears inconsistent with an unrestrained thermal ratchet model for translocation, in which RNAP freely and rapidly oscillates between pre- and post-translocated positions. The forward translocation state is made more stable by lowering the pH and/or by elevating the salt concentration, indicating a probable role of protonated histidine(s) in regulating accurate NTP loading and translocation. Because the post-translocated TEC can be strongly stabilized by NTP addition, NTP analogs were ranked for their ability to preserve the post-translocation state, giving insight into RNAP fidelity. Effects of NTPs (and analogs) and analysis of chemically modified RNA 3′ ends demonstrate that patterns of exo III mapping arise from intrinsic and subtle alterations at the RNAP active site, far from the site of exo III action.
The C-Terminal Domain (CTD) of the large subunit (Rpb1) of RNA Polymerase II has a Tyrosine-Serine-Proline-Threonine-Serine-Proline-Serine repeat structure in many eukaryotes. Chemical modifications of these residues play a central role in the regulation and coordination of the events of transcription. However, substantial variability in the presence and regularity of repeat arrays exists between eukaryote taxa. Following a survey of CTD structure from diverse eukaryote species, two hypotheses were tested relating to repeat structure and the action of selection on the CTD. First, it was found that degenerated repeat structure is associated with lower serine and proline frequencies in some eukaryote taxa but not in others. Second, maximum likelihood models of the evolution of Rpb1 in a number of species groups found that purifying selection on the non-repetitive CTD of several Leishmania species was substantially lower than for the rest of Rpb1, whereas purifying selection in a number of species groups containing repeat arrays was usually as high or nearly as high as for the rest of Rpb1. Characterization of CTD structure for a larger number of species than has been completed previously also revealed a greater diversity of CTD structures in eukaryotes than previously known, along with loss of repeat structure in the animals and fungi, two taxa where it has not previously been known. These results suggest that loss of CTD repeat structure has been an important aspect of RNA Polymerase II evolution in diverse eukaryotes.
The Mediator is a multi-subunit complex that transduces regulatory information from transcription regulators to the RNA polymerase II apparatus. Growing evidence suggests that Mediator plays roles in multiple stages of eukaryotic transcription, including elongation. However, the detailed mechanism by which Mediator regulates elongation remains elusive. In this study, we demonstrate that Mediator MED23 subunit controls a basal level of transcription by recruiting elongation factor P-TEFb, via an interaction with its CDK9 subunit. The mRNA level of Egr1, a MED23-controlled model gene, is reduced 4–5 fold in Med23−/− ES cells under an unstimulated condition, but Med23-deficiency does not alter the occupancies of RNAP II, GTFs, Mediator complex, or activator ELK1 at the Egr1 promoter. Instead, Med23 depletion results in a significant decrease in P-TEFb and RNAP II (Ser2P) binding at the coding region, but no changes for several other elongation regulators, such as DSIF and NELF. ChIP-seq revealed that Med23-deficiency partially reduced the P-TEFb occupancy at a set of MED23-regulated gene promoters. Further, we demonstrate that MED23 interacts with CDK9 in vivo and in vitro. Collectively, these results provide the mechanistic insight into how Mediator promotes RNAP II into transcription elongation.