Article

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.

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