The structure of a transcribing T7 RNA polymerase in transition from initiation to elongation

Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, 266 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06520-8114, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 31.48). 11/2008; 322(5901):553-7. DOI: 10.1126/science.1163433
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Structural studies of the T7 bacteriophage DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (T7 RNAP) have shown that the conformation of the amino-terminal domain changes substantially between the initiation and elongation phases of transcription, but how this transition is achieved remains unclear. We report crystal structures of T7 RNAP bound to promoter DNA containing either a 7- or an 8-nucleotide (nt) RNA transcript that illuminate intermediate states along the transition pathway. The amino-terminal domain comprises the C-helix subdomain and the promoter binding domain (PBD), which consists of two segments separated by subdomain H. The structures of the intermediate complex reveal that the PBD and the bound promoter rotate by approximately 45 degrees upon synthesis of an 8-nt RNA transcript. This allows the promoter contacts to be maintained while the active site is expanded to accommodate a growing heteroduplex. The C-helix subdomain moves modestly toward its elongation conformation, whereas subdomain H remains in its initiation- rather than its elongation-phase location, more than 70 angstroms away.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial RNA polymerases (MtRNAPs) are members of the single-subunit RNAP family, the most well-characterized member being the RNAP from T7 bacteriophage. MtRNAPs are, however, functionally distinct in that they depend on one or more transcription factors to recognize and open the promoter and initiate transcription, while the phage RNAPs are capable of performing these tasks alone. Since the transcriptional mechanisms that are conserved in phage and mitochondrial RNAPs have been so effectively characterized in the phage enzymes, outstanding structure-mechanism questions concern those aspects that are distinct in the MtRNAPs, particularly the role of the mitochondrial transcription factor(s). To address these questions we have used both negative staining and cryo-EM to generate three-dimensional reconstructions of yeast MtRNAP initiation complexes with and without the mitochondrial transcription factor (MTF1), and of the elongation complex. Together with biochemical experiments, these data indicate that MTF1 uses multiple mechanisms to drive promoter opening, and that its interactions with the MtRNAP regulate the conformational changes undergone by the latter enzyme as it traverses the template strand.
    Nucleic Acids Research 09/2014; 42(17). DOI:10.1093/nar/gku795 · 8.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mitochondrial promoters of Saccharomyces cerevisiae share a conserved -8 to +1 sequence with +1+2 AA, AG or AT initiation sequence, which dictates the efficiency of transcription initiation by the mitochondrial RNA polymerase Rpo41 and its initiation factor Mtf1. We used 2-aminopurine fluorescence to monitor promoter melting and measured the kcat/Km of 2-mer synthesis to quantify initiation efficiency with systematic changes of the +1+2 base pairs to matched and mismatched pairs. We show that AA promoters are most efficient, followed by AG and then AT promoters, and the differences in their efficiencies stem specifically from differential melting of +1+2 region without affecting melting of the upstream -4 to -1 region. Inefficient +1+2 melting increases the initial NTPs Kms of the AG and AT promoters relative to AA or singly mispaired promoters. The 16-100-fold higher catalytic efficiency of AA initiation sequence relative to AG and AT, respectively, is partly due to Rpo41-Mtf1 interactions with the +1+2 non-template adenines that generate a stable pre-transcribing complex. We propose a model where the +2 base pair regulates the efficiency of initial transcription by controlling multiple steps including downstream promoter opening, +1+2 NTPs binding, and the rate of 2-mer synthesis.
    Nucleic Acids Research 09/2014; DOI:10.1093/nar/gku868 · 8.81 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transcription through chromatin by different RNA polymerases produces different biological outcomes and is accompanied by either nucleosome survival at the original location (Pol II-type mechanism) or backward nucleosome translocation along DNA (Pol III-type mechanism). It has been proposed that differences in the structure of the key intermediates formed during transcription dictate the fate of the nucleosomes. To evaluate this possibility, structure of the key intermediate formed during transcription by Pol III-type mechanism was studied by DNase I footprinting and molecular modeling. The Pol III-type mechanism is characterized by less efficient formation of the key intermediate required for nucleosome survival (Ø-loop, Pol II-type mechanism), most likely due to steric interference between the RNA polymerase and DNA in the Ø-loop. The data suggest that the lower efficiency of Ø-loop formation induces formation of a lower nucleosomal barrier and nucleosome translocation during transcription by Pol III-type mechanism.


1 Download
Available from