Structure of human mitochondrial RNA polymerase
ABSTRACT Transcription of the mitochondrial genome is performed by a single-subunit RNA polymerase (mtRNAP) that is distantly related to the RNAP of bacteriophage T7, the pol I family of DNA polymerases, and single-subunit RNAPs from chloroplasts. Whereas T7 RNAP can initiate transcription by itself, mtRNAP requires the factors TFAM and TFB2M for binding and melting promoter DNA. TFAM is an abundant protein that binds and bends promoter DNA 15-40 base pairs upstream of the transcription start site, and stimulates the recruitment of mtRNAP and TFB2M to the promoter. TFB2M assists mtRNAP in promoter melting and reaches the active site of mtRNAP to interact with the first base pair of the RNA-DNA hybrid. Here we report the X-ray structure of human mtRNAP at 2.5 Å resolution, which reveals a T7-like catalytic carboxy-terminal domain, an amino-terminal domain that remotely resembles the T7 promoter-binding domain, a novel pentatricopeptide repeat domain, and a flexible N-terminal extension. The pentatricopeptide repeat domain sequesters an AT-rich recognition loop, which binds promoter DNA in T7 RNAP, probably explaining the need for TFAM during promoter binding. Consistent with this, substitution of a conserved arginine residue in the AT-rich recognition loop, or release of this loop by deletion of the N-terminal part of mtRNAP, had no effect on transcription. The fingers domain and the intercalating hairpin, which melts DNA in phage RNAPs, are repositioned, explaining the need for TFB2M during promoter melting. Our results provide a new venue for the mechanistic analysis of mitochondrial transcription. They also indicate how an early phage-like mtRNAP lost functions in promoter binding and melting, which were provided by initiation factors in trans during evolution, to enable mitochondrial gene regulation and the adaptation of mitochondrial function to changes in the environment.
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ABSTRACT: A single-subunit RNA polymerase, POLRMT, transcribes the mitochondrial genome in human cells. Recently, a factor termed as the mitochondrial transcription elongation factor, TEFM, was shown to stimulate transcription elongation in vivo, but its effect in vitro was relatively modest. In the current work, we have isolated active TEFM in recombinant form and used a reconstituted in vitro transcription system to characterize its activities. We show that TEFM strongly promotes POLRMT processivity as it dramatically stimulates the formation of longer transcripts. TEFM also abolishes premature transcription termination at conserved sequence block II, an event that has been linked to primer formation during initiation of mtDNA synthesis. We show that POLRMT pauses at a wide range of sites in a given DNA sequence. In the absence of TEFM, this leads to termination; however, the presence of TEFM abolishes this effect and aids POLRMT in continuation of transcription. Further, we show that TEFM substantially increases the POLRMT affinity to an elongation-like DNA:RNA template. In combination with previously published in vivo observations, our data establish TEFM as an essential component of the mitochondrial transcription machinery. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.Nucleic Acids Research 02/2015; 43(5). DOI:10.1093/nar/gkv105 · 8.81 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Proteins of the pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) superfamily are characterized by tandem arrays of a degenerate 35-amino-acid α-hairpin motif. PPR proteins are typically single-stranded RNA-binding proteins with essential roles in organelle biogenesis, RNA editing and mRNA maturation. A modular, predictable code for sequence-specific binding of RNA by PPR proteins has recently been revealed, which opens the door to the de novo design of bespoke proteins with specific RNA targets, with widespread biotechnological potential. Here, the design and production of a synthetic PPR protein based on a consensus sequence and the determination of its crystal structure to 2.2 Å resolution are described. The crystal structure displays helical disorder, resulting in electron density representing an infinite superhelical PPR protein. A structural comparison with related tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) proteins, and with native PPR proteins, reveals key roles for conserved residues in directing the structure and function of PPR proteins. The designed proteins have high solubility and thermal stability, and can form long tracts of PPR repeats. Thus, consensus-sequence synthetic PPR proteins could provide a suitable backbone for the design of bespoke RNA-binding proteins with the potential for high specificity.Acta Crystallographica Section D Biological Crystallography 02/2015; 71(Pt 2):196-208. DOI:10.1107/S1399004714024869 · 7.23 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Regulation of transcription of mtDNA is thought to be crucial for maintenance of redox potential and vitality of the cell but is poorly understood at the molecular level. In this study we mapped the binding sites of the core transcription initiation factors TFAM and TFB2M on human mitochondrial RNA polymerase, and interactions of the latter with promoter DNA. This allowed us to construct a detailed structural model, which displays a remarkable level of interaction between the components of the initiation complex (IC). The architecture of the mitochondrial IC suggests mechanisms of promoter binding and recognition that are distinct from the mechanisms found in RNAPs operating in all domains of life, and illuminates strategies of transcription regulation developed at the very early stages of evolution of gene expression. © The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.Nucleic Acids Research 03/2015; 43(7). DOI:10.1093/nar/gkv235 · 8.81 Impact Factor