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1.  Four subunits that are shared by the three classes of RNA polymerase are functionally interchangeable between Homo sapiens and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(9):4702-4710.
Four cDNAs encoding human polypeptides hRPB7.0, hRPB7.6, hRPB17, and hRPB14.4 (referred to as Hs10 alpha, Hs10 beta, Hs8, and Hs6, respectively), homologous to the ABC10 alpha, ABC10 beta, ABC14.5, and ABC23 RNA polymerase subunits (referred to as Sc10 alpha, Sc10 beta, Sc8, and Sc6, respectively) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, were cloned and characterized for their ability to complement defective yeast mutants. Hs10 alpha and the corresponding Sp10 alpha of Schizosaccharomyces pombe can complement an S. cerevisiae mutant (rpc10-delta::HIS3) defective in Sc10 alpha. The peptide sequences are highly conserved in their carboxy-terminal halves, with an invariant motif CX2CX12RCX2CGXR corresponding to a canonical zinc-binding domain. Hs10 beta, Sc10 beta, and the N subunit of archaeal RNA polymerase are homologous. An invariant CX2CGXnCCR motif presumably forms an atypical zinc-binding domain. Hs10 beta, but not the archaeal subunit, complemented an S. cerevisiae mutant (rpb10-delta 1::HIS3) lacking Sc10 beta. Hs8 complemented a yeast mutant (rpb8-delta 1::LYS2) defective in the corresponding Sc8 subunit, although with a strong thermosensitive phenotype. Interspecific complementation also occurred with Hs6 and with the corresponding Dm6 cDNA of Drosophila melanogaster. Hs6 cDNA and the Sp6 cDNA of S. pombe are dosage-dependent suppressors of rpo21-4, a mutation generating a slowly growing yeast defective in the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II. Finally, a doubly chimeric S. cerevisiae strain bearing the Sp6 cDNA and the human Hs10 beta cDNA was also viable. No interspecific complementation was observed for the human hRPB25 (Hs5) homolog of the yeast ABC27 (Sc5) subunit.
PMCID: PMC230713  PMID: 7651387
2.  Distinct regions of RPB11 are required for heterodimerization with RPB3 in human and yeast RNA polymerase II 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(11):3582-3590.
In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, RNA polymerase II assembly is probably initiated by the formation of the RPB3–RPB11 heterodimer. RPB3 is encoded by a single copy gene in the yeast, mouse and human genomes. The RPB11 gene is also unique in yeast and mouse, but in humans a gene family has been identified that potentially encodes several RPB11 proteins differing mainly in their C-terminal regions. We compared the abilities of both yeast and human proteins to heterodimerize. We show that the yeast RPB3/RPB11 heterodimer critically depends on the presence of the C-terminal region of RPB11. In contrast, the human heterodimer tolerates significant changes in RPB11 C-terminus, allowing two human RPB11 variants to heterodimerize with the same efficiency with RPB3. In keeping with this observation, the interactions between the conserved N-terminal ‘α-motifs’ is much more important for heterodimerization of the human subunits than for those in yeast. These data indicate that the heterodimerization interfaces have been modified during the course of evolution to allow a recent diversification of the human RPB11 subunits that remains compatible with heterodimerization with RPB3.
PMCID: PMC1159119  PMID: 15987790
3.  Structure of the gene encoding the 14.5 kDa subunit of human RNA polymerase II. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1993;21(23):5345-5350.
The structure of the gene encoding the 14.5 kDa subunit of the human RNA polymerase II (or B) has been elucidated. The gene consists of six exons, ranging from 52 to over 101 bp, interspaced with five introns ranging from 84 to 246 bp. It is transcribed into three major RNA species, present at low abundance in exponentially growing HeLa cells. The corresponding messenger RNAs contain the same open reading frame encoding a 125 amino acid residue protein, with a calculated molecular weight of 14,523 Da. This protein (named hRPB14.5) shares strong homologies with the homologous polymerase subunits encoded by the Drosophila (RpII15) and yeast (RPB9) genes. Cysteines characteristic of two zinc fingers are conserved in all three corresponding sequences and, like the yeast protein, the hRPB14.5 subunit exhibits zinc-binding activity.
PMCID: PMC310569  PMID: 8265347
4.  Human RNA polymerase II subunit hsRPB7 functions in yeast and influences stress survival and cell morphology. 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1995;6(7):759-775.
Using a screen to identify human genes that promote pseudohyphal conversion in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we obtained a cDNA encoding hsRPB7, a human homologue of the seventh largest subunit of yeast RNA polymerase II (RPB7). Overexpression of yeast RPB7 in a comparable strain background caused more pronounced cell elongation than overexpression of hsRPB7. hsRPB7 sequence and function are strongly conserved with its yeast counterpart because its expression can rescue deletion of the essential RPB7 gene at moderate temperatures. Further, immuno-precipitation of RNA polymerase II from yeast cells containing hsRPB7 revealed that the hsRPB7 assembles the complete set of 11 other yeast subunits. However, at temperature extremes and during maintenance at stationary phase, hsRPB7-containing yeast cells lose viability rapidly, stress-sensitive phenotypes reminiscent of those associated with deletion of the RPB4 subunit with which RPB7 normally complexes. Two-hybrid analysis revealed that although hsRPB7 and RPB4 interact, the association is of lower affinity than the RPB4-RPB7 interaction, providing a probable mechanism for the failure of hsRPB7 to fully function in yeast cells at high and low temperatures. Finally, surprisingly, hsRPB7 RNA in human cells is expressed in a tissue-specific pattern that differs from that of the RNA polymerase II largest subunit, implying a potential regulatory role for hsRPB7. Taken together, these results suggest that some RPB7 functions may be analogous to those possessed by the stress-specific prokaryotic sigma factor rpoS.
PMCID: PMC301239  PMID: 7579693
5.  The Rpb4 Subunit of Fission Yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe RNA Polymerase II Is Essential for Cell Viability and Similar in Structure to the Corresponding Subunits of Higher Eukaryotes 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(11):7511-7518.
Both the gene and the cDNA encoding the Rpb4 subunit of RNA polymerase II were cloned from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. The cDNA sequence indicates that Rpb4 consists of 135 amino acid residues with a molecular weight of 15,362. As in the case of the corresponding subunits from higher eukaryotes such as humans and the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, Rpb4 is smaller than RPB4 from the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and lacks several segments, which are present in the S. cerevisiae RPB4 subunit, including the highly charged sequence in the central portion. The RPB4 subunit of S. cerevisiae is not essential for normal cell growth but is required for cell viability under stress conditions. In contrast, S. pombe Rpb4 was found to be essential even under normal growth conditions. The fraction of RNA polymerase II containing RPB4 in exponentially growing cells of S. cerevisiae is about 20%, but S. pombe RNA polymerase II contains the stoichiometric amount of Rpb4 even at the exponential growth phase. In contrast to the RPB4 homologues from higher eukaryotes, however, S. pombe Rpb4 formed stable hybrid heterodimers with S. cerevisiae RPB7, suggesting that S. pombe Rpb4 is similar, in its structure and essential role in cell viability, to the corresponding subunits from higher eukaryotes. However, S. pombe Rpb4 is closer in certain molecular functions to S. cerevisiae RPB4 than the eukaryotic RPB4 homologues.
PMCID: PMC84753  PMID: 10523639
6.  Characterization of the RNA polymerase II and III complexes in Leishmania major✰ 
Transcription of protein-coding genes in Leishmania major and other trypanosomatids differs from that in most eukaryotes and bioinformatic analyses have failed to identify several components of the RNA polymerase (RNAP) complexes. To increase our knowledge about this basic cellular process, we used tandem affinity purification (TAP) to identify subunits of RNAP II and III. Mass spectrometric analysis of the complexes co-purified with TAP-tagged LmRPB2 (encoded by LmjF31.0160) identified seven RNAP II subunits: RPB1, RPB2, RPB3, RPB5, RPB7, RPB10 and RPB11. With the exception of RPB10 and RPB11, and the addition of RPB8, these were also identified using TAP-tagged constructs of one (encoded by LmjF34.0890) of the two LmRPB6 orthologues. The latter experiments also identified the RNAP III subunits RPC1 (C160), RPC2 (C128), RPC3 (C82), RPC4 (C53), RPC5 (C37), RPC6 (C34), RPC9 (C17), RPAC1 (AC40) and RPAC2 (AC19). Significantly, the complexes precipitated by TAP-tagged LmRPB6 did not contain any RNAP I-specific subunits, suggesting that, unlike in other eukaryotes, LmRPB6 is not shared by all three polymerases but is restricted to RNAP II and III, while the LmRPB6z (encoded by LmjF25.0140) isoform is limited to RNAP I. Similarly, we identified peptides from only one (encoded by LmjF18.0780) of the two RPB5 orthologues and one (LmjF13.1120) of the two RPB10 orthologues, suggesting that LmRPB5z (LmjF18.0790) and LmRPB10z (LmjF13.1120) are also restricted to RNAP I. In addition to these RNAP subunits, we also identified a number of other proteins that co-purified with the RNAP II and III complexes, including a potential transcription factor, several histones, an ATPase involved in chromosome segregation, an endonuclease, four helicases, RNA splicing factor PTSR-1, at least two RNA binding proteins and several proteins of unknown function.
PMCID: PMC2939717  PMID: 17275824
Leishmania; Transcription; RNA polymerase; Protein purification
7.  Six human RNA polymerase subunits functionally substitute for their yeast counterparts. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1995;15(12):6895-6900.
To assess functional relatedness of individual components of the eukaryotic transcription apparatus, three human subunits (hsRPB5, hsRPB8, and hsRPB10) were tested for their ability to support yeast cell growth in the absence of their essential yeast homologs. Two of the three subunits, hsRPB8 and hsRPB10, supported normal yeast cell growth at moderate temperatures. A fourth human subunit, hsRPB9, is a homolog of the nonessential yeast subunit RPB9. Yeast cells lacking RPB9 are unable to grow at high and low temperatures and are defective in mRNA start site selection. We tested the ability of hsRPB9 to correct the growth and start site selection defect seen in the absence of RPB9. Expression of hsRPB9 on a high-copy-number plasmid, but not a low-copy-number plasmid, restored growth at high temperatures. Recombinant human hsRPB9 was also able to completely correct the start site selection defect seen at the CYC1 promoter in vitro as effectively as the yeast RPB9 subunit. Immunoprecipitation of the cell extracts from yeast cells containing either of the human subunits that function in place of their yeast counterparts in vivo suggested that they assemble with the complete set of yeast RNA polymerase II subunits. Overall, a total of six of the seven human subunits tested previously or in this study are able to substitute for their yeast counterparts in vivo, underscoring the remarkable similarities between the transcriptional machineries of lower and higher eukaryotes.
PMCID: PMC230944  PMID: 8524256
8.  Rpb7 Can Interact with RNA Polymerase II and Support Transcription during Some Stresses Independently of Rpb4 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(4):2672-2680.
Rpb4 and Rpb7 are two yeast RNA polymerase II (Pol II) subunits whose mechanistic roles have recently started to be deciphered. Although previous data suggest that Rpb7 can stably interact with Pol II only as a heterodimer with Rpb4, RPB7 is essential for viability, whereas RPB4 is essential only during some stress conditions. To resolve this discrepancy and to gain a better understanding of the mode of action of Rpb4, we took advantage of the inability of cells lacking RPB4 (rpb4Δ, containing Pol IIΔ4) to grow above 30°C and screened for genes whose overexpression could suppress this defect. We thus discovered that overexpression of RPB7 could suppress the inability of rpb4Δ cells to grow at 34°C (a relatively mild temperature stress) but not at higher temperatures. Overexpression of RPB7 could also partially suppress the cold sensitivity of rpb4Δ strains and fully suppress their inability to survive a long starvation period (stationary phase). Notably, however, overexpression of RPB4 could not override the requirement for RPB7. Consistent with the growth phenotype, overexpression of RPB7 could suppress the transcriptional defect characteristic of rpb4Δ cells during the mild, but not during a more severe, heat shock. We also demonstrated, through two reciprocal coimmunoprecipitation experiments, a stable interaction of the overproduced Rpb7 with Pol IIΔ4. Nevertheless, fewer Rpb7 molecules interacted with Pol IIΔ4 than with wild-type Pol II. Thus, a major role of Rpb4 is to augment the interaction of Rpb7 with Pol II. We suggest that Pol IIΔ4 contains a small amount of Rpb7 that is sufficient to support transcription only under nonstress conditions. When RPB7 is overexpressed, more Rpb7 assembles with Pol IIΔ4, enough to permit appropriate transcription also under some stress conditions.
PMCID: PMC84060  PMID: 10082533
9.  Analysis of the Interaction of the Novel RNA Polymerase II (pol II) Subunit hsRPB4 with Its Partner hsRPB7 and with pol II 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1998;18(4):1935-1945.
Under conditions of environmental stress, prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes such as the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae selectively utilize particular subunits of RNA polymerase II (pol II) to alter transcription to patterns favoring survival. In S. cerevisiae, a complex of two such subunits, RPB4 and RPB7, preferentially associates with pol II during stationary phase; of these two subunits, RPB4 is specifically required for survival under nonoptimal growth conditions. Previously, we have shown that RPB7 possesses an evolutionarily conserved human homolog, hsRPB7, which was capable of partially interacting with RPB4 and the yeast transcriptional apparatus. Using this as a probe in a two-hybrid screen, we have now established that hsRPB4 is also conserved in higher eukaryotes. In contrast to hsRPB7, hsRPB4 has diverged so that it no longer interacts with yeast RPB7, although it partially complements rpb4− phenotypes in yeast. However, hsRPB4 associates strongly and specifically with hsRPB7 when expressed in yeast or in mammalian cells and copurifies with intact pol II. hsRPB4 expression in humans parallels that of hsRPB7, supporting the idea that the two proteins may possess associated functions. Structure-function studies of hsRPB4-hsRPB7 are used to establish the interaction interface between the two proteins. This identification completes the set of human homologs for RNA pol II subunits defined in yeast and should provide the basis for subsequent structural and functional characterization of the pol II holoenzyme.
PMCID: PMC121423  PMID: 9528765
10.  The Not5 Subunit of the Ccr4-Not Complex Connects Transcription and Translation 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(10):e1004569.
Recent studies have suggested that a sub-complex of RNA polymerase II composed of Rpb4 and Rpb7 couples the nuclear and cytoplasmic stages of gene expression by associating with newly made mRNAs in the nucleus, and contributing to their translation and degradation in the cytoplasm. Here we show by yeast two hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation experiments, followed by ribosome fractionation and fluorescent microscopy, that a subunit of the Ccr4-Not complex, Not5, is essential in the nucleus for the cytoplasmic functions of Rpb4. Not5 interacts with Rpb4; it is required for the presence of Rpb4 in polysomes, for interaction of Rpb4 with the translation initiation factor eIF3 and for association of Rpb4 with mRNAs. We find that Rpb7 presence in the cytoplasm and polysomes is much less significant than that of Rpb4, and that it does not depend upon Not5. Hence Not5-dependence unlinks the cytoplasmic functions of Rpb4 and Rpb7. We additionally determine with RNA immunoprecipitation and native gel analysis that Not5 is needed in the cytoplasm for the co-translational assembly of RNA polymerase II. This stems from the importance of Not5 for the association of the R2TP Hsp90 co-chaperone with polysomes translating RPB1 mRNA to protect newly synthesized Rpb1 from aggregation. Hence taken together our results show that Not5 interconnects translation and transcription.
Author Summary
In this work we show that, both in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm, Not5 plays a “bridging” role for RNA Polymerase II. In the cytoplasm, Not5 interacts with the mRNA encoding the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II Rpb1 and supports the association of a co-chaperone to newly produced protein, to keep it soluble and assembly competent. In the nucleus, Not5 interacts with the Rpb4 subunit of polymerase that is known to readily dissociate from the rest of the polymerase, and it is essential for Rpb4 to associate with mRNAs at the completion of transcription to contribute to translation and mRNA degradation in the cytoplasm. Hence our data define Not5 as a key player in the cross-talk between different stages of eukaryotic gene expression: Not5 impacts on production of polymerase, hence transcription, during translation, and on Rpb4 mRNA association, hence translation and mRNA degradation during transcription.
PMCID: PMC4207488  PMID: 25340856
11.  Genomewide Recruitment Analysis of Rpb4, a Subunit of Polymerase II in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Reveals Its Involvement in Transcription Elongation▿ †  
Eukaryotic Cell  2008;7(6):1009-1018.
The Rpb4/Rpb7 subcomplex of yeast RNA polymerase II (Pol II) has counterparts in all multisubunit RNA polymerases from archaebacteria to higher eukaryotes. The Rpb4/7 subcomplex in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is unique in that it easily dissociates from the core, unlike the case in other organisms. The relative levels of Rpb4 and Rpb7 in yeasts affect the differential gene expression and stress response. Rpb4 is nonessential in S. cerevisiae and affects expression of a small number of genes under normal growth conditions. Here, using a chromatin immunoprecipitation (“ChIP on-chip”) technique, we compared genomewide binding of Rpb4 to that of a core Pol II subunit, Rpb3. Our results showed that in spite of being nonessential for survival, Rpb4 was recruited on coding regions of most transcriptionally active genes, similar to the case with the core Pol II subunit, Rpb3, albeit to a lesser extent. The extent of Rpb4 recruitment increased with increasing gene length. We also observed Pol II lacking Rpb4 to be defective in transcribing long, GC-rich transcription units, suggesting a role for Rpb4 in transcription elongation. This role in transcription elongation was supported by the observed 6-azauracil (6AU) sensitivity of the rpb4Δ mutant. Unlike most phenotypes of rpb4Δ, the 6AU sensitivity of the rpb4Δ strain was not rescued by overexpression of RPB7. This report provides the first instance of a distinct role for Rpb4 in transcription, which is independent of its interacting partner, Rpb7.
PMCID: PMC2446657  PMID: 18441121
12.  RNAP II CTD tyrosine 1 performs diverse functions in vertebrate cells 
eLife  2014;3:e02112.
The RNA polymerase II largest subunit (Rpb1) contains a unique C-terminal domain (CTD) that plays multiple roles during transcription. The CTD is composed of consensus Y1S2P3T4S5P6S7 repeats, in which Ser, Thr and Tyr residues can all be phosphorylated. Here we report analysis of CTD Tyr1 using genetically tractable chicken DT40 cells. Cells expressing an Rpb1 derivative with all Tyr residues mutated to Phe (Rpb1-Y1F) were inviable. Remarkably, Rpb1-Y1F was unstable, degraded to a CTD-less form; however stability, but not cell viability, was fully rescued by restoration of a single C-terminal Tyr (Rpb1-25F+Y). Cytoplasmic and nucleoplasmic Rpb1 was phosphorylated exclusively on Tyr1, and phosphorylation specifically of Tyr1 prevented CTD degradation by the proteasome in vitro. Tyr1 phosphorylation was also detected on chromatin-associated, hyperphosphorylated Rpb1, consistent with a role in transcription. Indeed, we detected accumulation of upstream antisense (ua) RNAs in Rpb1-25F+Y cells, indicating a role for Tyr1 in uaRNA expression.
eLife digest
When a gene is expressed, the DNA is first transcribed to produce an intermediate molecule called a messenger RNA (mRNA), which is then translated to produce a protein. RNA Polymerase II is an enzyme that makes mRNA molecules in organisms as diverse as plants, animals and yeast.
RNA Polymerase II is a complex made of a number of proteins. The largest protein in this complex includes a ‘carboxy-terminal domain’ that has multiple repeats of seven amino acids one after the other. The first amino acid in each repeat, a tyrosine, is referred to as tyrosine-1. Adding various chemical tags to the amino acids in these repeats co-ordinates the steps involved in the transcription of genes. In yeast, for example, adding a phosphate groups to tyrosine-1 seems to help the polymerase to proceed to make long mRNA molecules. However, it is not known what these chemical tags do in humans or other animals.
Now Hsin et al. (and independently Descostes, Heidemann et al.) have shown that the same phosphate groups on tyrosine-1 perform functions in vertebrates (animals with backbones) that are different to those performed in yeast. These functions include protecting the carboxy-terminal domain from being broken down inside cells, and transcribing the DNA that is upstream of genes.
Hsin et al. replaced tyrosine-1 in RNA Polymerase II from chicken cells with a related amino acid that cannot have phosphate groups added to it. This mutant RNA Polymerase II was unstable and degraded by the molecular machinery in cells that breaks down damaged or unneeded proteins back into amino acids. Hsin et al. also compared the mRNA molecules that are made by the wild-type RNA Polymerase II with those produced by a related mutant. This comparison revealed an unexpected accumulation of RNA molecules that are transcribed in the opposite direction from mRNAs. These RNA molecules, known as ‘upstream antisense RNAs’, have been described only recently. And while the function of these RNAs remains mysterious, the results of Hsin et al. suggest that tyrosine-1 helps to ensure that these RNA molecules are rapidly broken down.
The results of Hsin et al. raise a number of important questions, and foremost among these questions is: how do these newly discovered properties of tyrosine-1 contribute to the control of gene expression in animals? Further work is needed to answer this question.
PMCID: PMC4042873  PMID: 24842995
RNA polymerase II; CTD; tyrosine; upstream antisense RNA; Rpb1 protein stability; proteasome; chicken; human
13.  Involvement of multiple subunit–subunit contacts in the assembly of RNA polymerase II 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(4):952-959.
RNA polymerase II from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe consists of 12 species of subunits, Rpb1–Rpb12. We expressed these subunits, except Rpb4, simultaneously in cultured insect cells with baculovirus expression vectors. For the isolation of subunit complexes formed in the virus-infected cells, a glutathione S-transferase (GST) sequence was fused to the rpb3 cDNA to produce GST–Rpb3 fusion protein and a decahistidine-tag sequence was inserted into the rpb1 cDNA to produce Rpb1H protein. After successive affinity chromatography on glutathione and Ni2+ columns, complexes consisting of the seven subunits, Rpb1H, Rpb2, GST–Rpb3, Rpb5, Rpb7, Rpb8 and Rpb11, were identified. Omission of the GST–Rpb3 expression resulted in reduced assembly of the Rpb11 into the complex. Direct interaction between Rpb3 and the other six subunits was detected by pairwise coexpression experiments. Coexpression of various combinations of a few subunits revealed that Rpb11 enhances Rpb3–Rpb8 interaction and consequently Rpb8 enhances Rpb1–Rpb3 interaction to some extent. We propose a mechanism in which the assembly of RNA poly-merase II is stabilized through multiple subunit–subunit contacts.
PMCID: PMC102587  PMID: 10648788
14.  RNA polymerase II subunit RPB3 is an essential component of the mRNA transcription apparatus. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1989;9(12):5387-5394.
To improve our understanding of RNA polymerase II, the gene that encodes its third-largest subunit, RPB3, was isolated from a lambda gt11 DNA library by using antibody probes. The RPB3 DNA sequence predicts a 318-amino-acid protein whose sequence was confirmed, in part, by microsequence analysis of the gel-purified RNA polymerase II subunit. RPB3 was found to be an essential single-copy gene that is tightly linked to HIS6 on chromosome IX. An RPB3 temperature-sensitive mutant that arrested growth after three to four generations at the restrictive temperature was isolated. When the mutant was shifted to the restrictive temperature, RNA polymerase II could no longer assemble, previously assembled functional enzyme was depleted, and mRNA levels were consequently reduced. These results demonstrate that RPB3 is an essential component of the mRNA transcription apparatus. Finally, the RPB3 protein is similar in sequence and length to RPC5, a subunit common to RNA polymerases I and III, suggesting that these subunits may play similar roles in RNA polymerases I, II, and III.
PMCID: PMC363706  PMID: 2685562
15.  The fission yeast Rpb4 subunit of RNA polymerase II plays a specialized role in cell separation 
Molecular Genetics and Genomics   2006;276(6):545-554.
RNA polymerase II is a complex of 12 subunits, Rpb1 to Rpb12, whose specific roles are only partly understood. Rpb4 is essential in mammals and fission yeast, but not in budding yeast. To learn more about the roles of Rpb4, we expressed the rpb4 gene under the control of regulatable promoters of different strength in fission yeast. We demonstrate that below a critical level of transcription, Rpb4 affects cellular growth proportional to its expression levels: cells expressing lower levels of rpb4 grew slower compared to cells expressing higher levels. Lowered rpb4 expression did not affect cell survival under several stress conditions, but it caused specific defects in cell separation similar to sep mutants. Microarray analysis revealed that lowered rpb4 expression causes a global reduction in gene expression, but the transcript levels of a distinct subset of genes were particularly responsive to changes in rpb4 expression. These genes show some overlap with those regulated by the Sep1-Ace2 transcriptional cascade required for cell separation. Most notably, the gene expression signature of cells with lowered rpb4 expression was highly similar to those of mcs6, pmh1, sep10 and sep15 mutants. Mcs6 and Pmh1 encode orthologs of metazoan TFIIH-associated cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)-activating kinase (Cdk7-cyclin H-Mat1), while Sep10 and Sep15 encode mediator components. Our results suggest that Rpb4, along with some other general transcription factors, plays a specialized role in a transcriptional pathway that controls the cell cycle-regulated transcription of a specific subset of genes involved in cell division.
Electronic supplementary material
Supplementary material is available in the online version of this article at and is accessible for authorized users.
PMCID: PMC1705487  PMID: 16972065
Transcription; S. pombe; Cell division; Growth
16.  Genetic exploration of interactive domains in RNA polymerase II subunits. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1990;10(5):1908-1914.
The two large subunits of RNA polymerase II, RPB1 and RPB2, contain regions of extensive homology to the two large subunits of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase. These homologous regions may represent separate protein domains with unique functions. We investigated whether suppressor genetics could provide evidence for interactions between specific segments of RPB1 and RPB2 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. A plasmid shuffle method was used to screen thoroughly for mutations in RPB2 that suppress a temperature-sensitive mutation, rpb1-1, which is located in region H of RPB1. All six RPB2 mutations that suppress rpb1-1 were clustered in region I of RPB2. The location of these mutations and the observation that they were allele specific for suppression of rpb1-1 suggests an interaction between region H of RPB1 and region I of RPB2. A similar experiment was done to isolate and map mutations in RPB1 that suppress a temperature-sensitive mutation, rpb2-2, which occurs in region I of RPB2. These suppressor mutations were not clustered in a particular region. Thus, fine structure suppressor genetics can provide evidence for interactions between specific segments of two proteins, but the results of this type of analysis can depend on the conditional mutation to be suppressed.
PMCID: PMC360536  PMID: 2183012
17.  Phylogeny of Parasitic Parabasalia and Free-Living Relatives Inferred from Conventional Markers vs. Rpb1, a Single-Copy Gene 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20774.
Parabasalia are single-celled eukaryotes (protists) that are mainly comprised of endosymbionts of termites and wood roaches, intestinal commensals, human or veterinary parasites, and free-living species. Phylogenetic comparisons of parabasalids are typically based upon morphological characters and 18S ribosomal RNA gene sequence data (rDNA), while biochemical or molecular studies of parabasalids are limited to a few axenically cultivable parasites. These previous analyses and other studies based on PCR amplification of duplicated protein-coding genes are unable to fully resolve the evolutionary relationships of parabasalids. As a result, genetic studies of Parabasalia lag behind other organisms.
Principal Findings
Comparing parabasalid EF1α, α-tubulin, enolase and MDH protein-coding genes with information from the Trichomonas vaginalis genome reveals difficulty in resolving the history of species or isolates apart from duplicated genes. A conserved single-copy gene encodes the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (Rpb1) in T. vaginalis and other eukaryotes. Here we directly sequenced Rpb1 degenerate PCR products from 10 parabasalid genera, including several T. vaginalis isolates and avian isolates, and compared these data by phylogenetic analyses. Rpb1 genes from parabasalids, diplomonads, Parabodo, Diplonema and Percolomonas were all intronless, unlike intron-rich homologs in Naegleria, Jakoba and Malawimonas.
The phylogeny of Rpb1 from parasitic and free-living parabasalids, and conserved Rpb1 insertions, support Trichomonadea, Tritrichomonadea, and Hypotrichomonadea as monophyletic groups. These results are consistent with prior analyses of rDNA and GAPDH sequences and ultrastructural data. The Rpb1 phylogenetic tree also resolves species- and isolate-level relationships. These findings, together with the relative ease of Rpb1 isolation, make it an attractive tool for evaluating more extensive relationships within Parabasalia.
PMCID: PMC3111441  PMID: 21695260
18.  Partners of Rpb8p, a Small Subunit Shared by Yeast RNA Polymerases I, II, and III 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2001;21(17):6056-6065.
Rpb8p, a subunit common to the three yeast RNA polymerases, is conserved among eukaryotes and absent from noneukaryotes. Defective mutants were found at an invariant GGLLM motif and at two other highly conserved amino acids. With one exception, they are clustered on the Rpb8p structure. They all impair a two-hybrid interaction with a fragment conserved in the largest subunits of RNA polymerases I (Rpa190p), II (Rpb1p), and III (Rpc160p). This fragment corresponds to the pore 1 module of the RNA polymerase II crystal structure and bears a highly conserved motif (P.I.KP..LW.GKQ) facing the GGLLM motif of Rpb8p. An RNA polymerase I mutant (rpa190-G728D) at the invariant glycyl of P.I.KP..LW.GKQ provokes a temperature-sensitive defect. Increasing the gene dosage of another common subunit, Rpb6p, suppresses this phenotype. It also suppresses a conditional growth defect observed when replacing Rpb8p by its human counterpart. Hence, Rpb6p and Rpb8p functionally interact in vivo. These two subunits are spatially separated by the pore 1 module and may also be possibly connected by the disorganized N half of Rpb6p, not included in the present structure data. Human Rpb6p is phosphorylated at its N-terminal Ser2, but an alanyl replacement at this position still complements an rpb6-Δ null allele. A two-hybrid interaction also occurs between Rpb8p and the product of orphan gene YGR089w. A ygr089-Δ null mutant has no detectable growth defect but aggravates the conditional growth defect of rpb8 mutants, suggesting that the interaction with Rpb8p may be physiologically relevant.
PMCID: PMC87322  PMID: 11486042
19.  Rtr1 Is the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Homolog of a Novel Family of RNA Polymerase II-Binding Proteins▿  
Eukaryotic Cell  2008;7(6):938-948.
Cells must rapidly sense and respond to a wide variety of potentially cytotoxic external stressors to survive in a constantly changing environment. In a search for novel genes required for stress tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we identified the uncharacterized open reading frame YER139C as a gene required for growth at 37°C in the presence of the heat shock mimetic formamide. YER139C encodes the closest yeast homolog of the human RPAP2 protein, recently identified as a novel RNA polymerase II (RNAPII)-associated factor. Multiple lines of evidence support a role for this gene family in transcription, prompting us to rename YER139C RTR1 (regulator of transcription). The core RNAPII subunits RPB5, RPB7, and RPB9 were isolated as potent high-copy-number suppressors of the rtr1Δ temperature-sensitive growth phenotype, and deletion of the nonessential subunits RPB4 and RPB9 hypersensitized cells to RTR1 overexpression. Disruption of RTR1 resulted in mycophenolic acid sensitivity and synthetic genetic interactions with a number of genes involved in multiple phases of transcription. Consistently, rtr1Δ cells are defective in inducible transcription from the GAL1 promoter. Rtr1 constitutively shuttles between the cytoplasm and nucleus, where it physically associates with an active RNAPII transcriptional complex. Taken together, our data reveal a role for members of the RTR1/RPAP2 family as regulators of core RNAPII function.
PMCID: PMC2446653  PMID: 18408053
20.  Functional substitution of an essential yeast RNA polymerase subunit by a highly conserved mammalian counterpart. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1994;14(6):4155-4159.
We isolated the cDNA encoding the homolog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae nuclear RNA polymerase common subunit RPB6 from hamster CHO cells. Alignment of yeast RPB6 with its mammalian counterpart revealed that the subunits have nearly identical carboxy-terminal halves and a short acidic region at the amino terminus. Remarkably, the length and amino acid sequence of the hamster RPB6 are identical to those of the human RPB6 subunit. The conservation in sequence from lower to higher eukaryotes also reflects conservation of function in vivo, since hamster RPB6 supports normal wild-type yeast cell growth in the absence of the essential gene encoding RPB6.
PMCID: PMC358781  PMID: 8196653
21.  Cloning and sequence determination of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe rpb2 gene encoding the subunit 2 of RNA polymerase II. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1993;21(3):469-473.
The gene, rpb2, encoding the second largest subunit, subunit 2, of RNA polymerase II has been cloned from Schizosaccharomyces pombe using the corresponding gene, RPB2, of Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a probe for cross-hybridization. We have determined the complete nucleotide sequence of rpb2, and parts of the PCR-amplified rpb2 cDNA. The predicted coding sequence of a polypeptide of 1210 amino acid residues with a calculated molecular weight of 138 kilodaltons was interrupted by a short intron. The overall amino acid sequence homology of the S. pombe subunit 2 is 68, 62 and 62% with the corresponding protein from S. cerevisiae, D. melanogaster and H. sapiens, respectively. Southern analysis of the genomic DNA digested with various restriction enzymes showed that rpb2 was present as a single copy in the S. pombe genome. Northern analysis showed that the transcript of rpb2 was about 4 kb in length.
PMCID: PMC309141  PMID: 8441660
22.  Rsp5 Ubiquitin-Protein Ligase Mediates DNA Damage-Induced Degradation of the Large Subunit of RNA Polymerase II in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1999;19(10):6972-6979.
Rsp5 is an E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that belongs to the hect domain family of E3 proteins. We have previously shown that Rsp5 binds and ubiquitinates the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II, Rpb1, in vitro. We show here that Rpb1 ubiquitination and degradation are induced in vivo by UV irradiation and by the UV-mimetic compound 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4-NQO) and that a functional RSP5 gene product is required for this effect. The 26S proteasome is also required; a mutation of SEN3/RPN2 (sen3-1), which encodes an essential regulatory subunit of the 26S proteasome, partially blocks 4-NQO-induced degradation of Rpb1. These results suggest that Rsp5-mediated ubiquitination and degradation of Rpb1 are components of the response to DNA damage. A human WW domain-containing hect (WW-hect) E3 protein closely related to Rsp5, Rpf1/hNedd4, also binds and ubiquitinates both yeast and human Rpb1 in vitro, suggesting that Rpf1 and/or another WW-hect E3 protein mediates UV-induced degradation of the large subunit of polymerase II in human cells.
PMCID: PMC84692  PMID: 10490634
23.  Mutations in a conserved region of RNA polymerase II influence the accuracy of mRNA start site selection. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1991;11(11):5781-5791.
A sensitive phenotypic assay has been used to identify mutations affecting transcription initiation in the genes encoding the two large subunits of Saccharomyces cerevisiae RNA polymerase II (RPB1 and RPB2). The rpb1 and rpb2 mutations alter the ratio of transcripts initiated at two adjacent start sites of a delta-insertion promoter. Of a large number of rpb1 and rpb2 mutations screened, only a few affect transcription initiation patterns at delta-insertion promoters, and these mutations are in close proximity to each other within both RPB1 and RPB2. The two rpb1 mutations alter amino acid residues within homology block G, a region conserved in the large subunits of all RNA polymerases. The three strong rpb2 mutations alter adjacent amino acids. At a wild-type promoter, the rpb1 mutations affect the accuracy of mRNA start site selection by producing a small but detectable increase in the 5'-end heterogeneity of transcripts. These RNA polymerase II mutations implicate specific portions of the enzyme in aspects of transcription initiation.
PMCID: PMC361949  PMID: 1922077
24.  Functional interaction between TFIIB and the Rpb9 (Ssu73) subunit of RNA polymerase II in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1996;24(13):2560-2566.
Recessive mutations in the SSU71, SSU72 and SSU73 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were identified as either suppressors or enhancers of a TFIIB defect (sua7-1) that confers both a cold-sensitive growth phenotype and a downstream shift in transcription start site selection. The SSU71 (TFG1) gene encodes the largest subunit of TFIIF and SSU72 encodes a novel protein that is essential for cell viability. Here we report that SSU73 is identical to RPB9, the gene encoding the 14.2 kDa subunit of RNA polymerase II. The ssu73-1 suppressor compensates for both the growth defect and the downstream shift in start site selection associated with sua7-1. These effects are similar to those of the ssu71-1 suppressor and distinct from the ssu72-1 enhancer. The ssu73-1 allele was retrieved and sequenced, revealing a nonsense mutation at codon 107. Consequently, ssu73-1 encodes a truncated form of Rpb9 lacking the C-terminal 16 amino acids. This Rpb9 derivative retains at least partial function since the ssu73-1 mutant exhibits none of the growth defects associated with rpb9 null mutants. However, in a SUA7+ background, ssu73-1 confers the same upstream shift at ADH1 as an rpb9 null allele. This suggests that the C-terminus of Rpb9 functions in start site selection and demonstrates that the previously observed effects of rpb9 mutations on start site selection are not necessarily due to complete loss of function. These results establish a functional interaction between TFIIB and the Rpb9 subunit of RNA polymerase II and suggest that these two components of the preinitiation complex interact during transcription start site selection.
PMCID: PMC145985  PMID: 8692696
25.  Structural and functional homology between the RNAPI subunits A14/A43 and the archaeal RNAP subunits E/F 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(15):4391-4400.
In the archaeal RNA polymerase and the eukaryotic RNA polymerase II, two subunits (E/F and RPB4/RPB7, respectively) form a heterodimer that reversibly associates with the core of the enzyme. Recently it has emerged that this heterodimer also has a counterpart in the other eukaryotic RNA polymerases: in particular two subunits of RNA polymerase I (A14 and A43) display genetic and biochemical characteristics that are similar to those of the RPB4 and RPB7 subunits, despite the fact that only A43 shows some sequence homology to RPB7. We demonstrate that the sequence of A14 strongly suggests the presence of a HRDC domain, a motif that is found at the C-terminus of a number of helicases and RNases. The same motif is also seen in the structure of the F subunit, suggesting a structural link between A14 and the RPB4/C17/subunit F family, even in the absence of direct sequence homology. We show that it is possible to co-express and co-purify large amounts of the recombinant A14/A43 heterodimer, indicating a tight and specific interaction between the two subunits. To shed light on the function of the heterodimer, we performed gel mobility shift assays and showed that the A14/A43 heterodimer binds single-stranded RNA in a similar way to the archaeal E/F complex.
PMCID: PMC169954  PMID: 12888498

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