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Blattner, Claudia (2011): Molecular Basis of Rrn3-regulated RNA Polymerase I Initiation. Dissertation, LMU München: Fakultät für Chemie und Pharmazie



Eukaryotic nuclear transcription is carried out by three different Polymerases (Pol), Pol I, Pol II and Pol III. Among these, Pol I is dedicated to transcription of the rRNA, which is the first step of ribosome biogenesis, and cell growth is regulated during Pol I transcription initiation by the conserved factor Rrn3/TIF-IA in yeast/human. A wealth of structural information is available on Pol II and its general transcription factors (GTFs). Recently, also the architectures of Pol I and Pol III have been described by electron microscopy and the additional subunits that are specific to Pol I and Pol III have been identified as orthologs of the Pol II transcription factors TFIIF and TFIIE. Nevertheless, we still lack information about the architecture of the Pol I initiation complex and structural data is missing explaining the regulation of Pol I initiation mediated by its central transcription initiation factor Rrn3. The Rrn3 structure solved in this study reveals a unique HEAT repeat fold and indicates dimerization of Rrn3 in solution. However, the Rrn3-dimer is disrupted upon Pol I binding. The Rrn3 structure further displays a surface serine patch. Phosphorylation of this patch represses human Pol I transcription (Mayer et al, 2005; Mayer et al, 2004), and a phospho-mimetic patch mutation prevents Rrn3 binding to Pol I in vitro, and reduces S. cerevisiae cell growth and Pol I gene occupancy in vivo. This demonstrates a conserved regulation mechanism of the Pol I-Rrn3 interaction. Crosslinking indicates that Rrn3 does not only interact with Pol I subunits A43/14, but the interface further extends past the RNA exit tunnel and dock domain to AC40/19. The corresponding region of Pol II binds the Mediator head (Soutourina et al., 2011) that co-operates with TFIIB (Baek et al, 2006). Consistent with this, the Rrn3 binding partner, core factor subunit Rrn7, is predicted to be a TFIIB homologue. Taken together, our results provide the molecular basis of Rrn3-regulated Pol I initiation and cell growth and indicate a universally conserved architecture of eukaryotic transcription initiation complexes.