Trigger loop dynamics mediate the balance between the transcriptional fidelity and speed of RNA polymerase II

Biophysics Program, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 04/2012; 109(17):6555-60. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1200939109
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT During transcription, RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) must select the correct nucleotide, catalyze its addition to the growing RNA transcript, and move stepwise along the DNA until a gene is fully transcribed. In all kingdoms of life, transcription must be finely tuned to ensure an appropriate balance between fidelity and speed. Here, we used an optical-trapping assay with high spatiotemporal resolution to probe directly the motion of individual RNAPII molecules as they pass through each of the enzymatic steps of transcript elongation. We report direct evidence that the RNAPII trigger loop, an evolutionarily conserved protein subdomain, serves as a master regulator of transcription, affecting each of the three main phases of elongation, namely: substrate selection, translocation, and catalysis. Global fits to the force-velocity relationships of RNAPII and its trigger loop mutants support a Brownian ratchet model for elongation, where the incoming NTP is able to bind in either the pre- or posttranslocated state, and movement between these two states is governed by the trigger loop. Comparison of the kinetics of pausing by WT and mutant RNAPII under conditions that promote base misincorporation indicate that the trigger loop governs fidelity in substrate selection and mismatch recognition, and thereby controls aspects of both transcriptional accuracy and rate.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transcriptional fidelity, which prevents the misincorporation of incorrect nucleoside monophosphates in RNA, is essential for life. Results from molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of eukaryotic RNA polymerase (RNAP) II and bacterial RNAP with experimental data suggest that fidelity may involve as many as five checkpoints. Using MD simulations, the effects of different active site NTPs in both open and closed trigger loop (TL) structures of RNAPs are compared. Unfavorable initial binding of mismatched substrates in the active site with an open TL is proposed to be the first fidelity checkpoint. The leaving of an incorrect substrate is much easier than a correct one energetically from the umbrella sampling simulations. Then, the closing motion of the TL, required for catalysis, is hindered by the presence of mismatched NTPs. Mismatched NTPs also lead to conformational changes in the active site, which perturb the coordination of magnesium ions and likely affect the ability to proceed with catalysis. This step appears to be the most important checkpoint for deoxy-NTP discrimination. Finally, structural perturbations in the template DNA and the nascent RNA in the presence of mismatches likely hinder nucleotide addition and provide the structural foundation for backtracking followed by removing erroneously incorporated nucleotides during proofreading. © The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
    Nucleic Acids Research 12/2014; 43(2). DOI:10.1093/nar/gku1370 · 8.81 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: RNA polymerase II catalyzes the nucleotidyl transfer reaction for messenger RNA synthesis in eukaryotes. Two crystal structures of this system have been resolved, each with its own defects in the coordination sphere of Mg(2) (+) (A) resulting from chemical modifications. We have used both structures and also a novel hybrid of the two that allows a better exploration of the parts of configuration space that reflect substrate-enzyme interactions. MD and QM/MM calculations have been performed, the latter with the semiempirical AM1/d-PHOT method, calibrated against Density Functional Theory. Reaction path scans in 1-D provided insights about the role of Mg(2) (+) (A) which turns out to be more structural than catalytic. By contrast, 1-D scans of the incorporation of the nucleotidyl group yielded barriers that were much too high, necessitating the use of 2-D reaction coordinates. Three different proton acceptors for the initial reaction step were examined. For those models based on the two PDB structures the 2-D scans continued to yield very high barriers, indicating that the reaction is unlikely to proceed from these configurations. On the other hand, two hybrid models, chosen from the early and late parts of a 12ns molecular dynamics simulation yielded greatly reduced barriers in the range of ~17 to ~27 kcal/mol for the three proton acceptors, as compared to the experimental estimate of 18kcal/mol. The final step, release of pyrophosphate, was found to be facile. Our overall mechanism involves only active site residues or water without the need for external reactive agents such as the hydroxide ion previously proposed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., a Wiley company.
    Proteins Structure Function and Bioinformatics 02/2015; 83(2). DOI:10.1002/prot.24732 · 2.92 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Two components of the RNA polymerase (RNAP) catalytic center, the bridge helix and the trigger loop (TL), have been linked with changes in elongation rate and pausing. Here, single molecule experiments with the WT and two TL-tip mutants of the Escherichia coli enzyme reveal that tip mutations modulate RNAP's pause-free velocity, identifying TL conformational changes as one of two rate-determining steps in elongation. Consistent with this observation, we find a direct correlation between helix propensity of the modified amino acid and pause-free velocity. Moreover, nucleotide analogs affect transcription rate, suggesting that their binding energy also influences TL folding. A kinetic model in which elongation occurs in two steps, TL folding on nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) binding followed by NTP incorporation/pyrophosphate release, quantitatively accounts for these results. The TL plays no role in pause recovery remaining unfolded during a pause. This model suggests a finely tuned mechanism that balances transcription speed and fidelity.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2014; DOI:10.1073/pnas.1421067112 · 9.81 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 1, 2014