Near-atomic resolution visualization of human transcription promoter opening.
ABSTRACT: In eukaryotic transcription initiation, a large multi-subunit pre-initiation complex (PIC) that assembles at the core promoter is required for the opening of the duplex DNA and identification of the start site for transcription by RNA polymerase II. Here we use cryo-electron microscropy (cryo-EM) to determine near-atomic resolution structures of the human PIC in a closed state (engaged with duplex DNA), an open state (engaged with a transcription bubble), and an initially transcribing complex (containing six base pairs of DNA-RNA hybrid). Our studies provide structures for previously uncharacterized components of the PIC, such as TFIIE and TFIIH, and segments of TFIIA, TFIIB and TFIIF. Comparison of the different structures reveals the sequential conformational changes that accompany the transition from each state to the next throughout the transcription initiation process. This analysis illustrates the key role of TFIIB in transcription bubble stabilization and provides strong structural support for a translocase activity of XPB.
Project description:In eukaryotic cells, RNA polymerase I (Pol I) synthesizes precursor ribosomal RNA (pre-rRNA) that is subsequently processed into mature rRNA. To initiate transcription, Pol I requires the assembly of a multi-subunit pre-initiation complex (PIC) at the ribosomal RNA promoter. In yeast, the minimal PIC includes Pol I, the transcription factor Rrn3, and Core Factor (CF) composed of subunits Rrn6, Rrn7, and Rrn11. Here, we present the cryo-EM structure of the 18-subunit yeast Pol I PIC bound to a transcription scaffold. The cryo-EM map reveals an unexpected arrangement of the DNA and CF subunits relative to Pol I. The upstream DNA is positioned differently than in any previous structures of the Pol II PIC. Furthermore, the TFIIB-related subunit Rrn7 also occupies a different location compared to the Pol II PIC although it uses similar interfaces as TFIIB to contact DNA. Our results show that although general features of eukaryotic transcription initiation are conserved, Pol I and Pol II use them differently in their respective transcription initiation complexes.
Project description:Eukaryotic gene transcription requires the assembly at the promoter of a large preinitiation complex (PIC) that includes RNA polymerase II (Pol II) and the general transcription factors TFIID, TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIIF, TFIIE, and TFIIH. The size and complexity of Pol II, TFIID, and TFIIH have precluded their reconstitution from heterologous systems, and purification relies on scarce endogenous sources. Together with their conformational flexibility and the transient nature of their interactions, these limitations had precluded structural characterization of the PIC. In the last few years, however, progress in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has made possible the visualization, at increasingly better resolution, of large PIC assemblies in different functional states. These structures can now be interpreted in near-atomic detail and provide an exciting structural framework for past and future functional studies, giving us unique mechanistic insight into the complex process of transcription initiation.
Project description:Rpc82 is a TFIIE-related subunit of the eukaryotic RNA polymerase III (pol III) complex. Rpc82 contains four winged-helix (WH) domains and a C-terminal coiled-coil domain. Structural resolution of the pol III complex indicated that Rpc82 anchors on the clamp domain of the pol III cleft to interact with the duplex DNA downstream of the transcription bubble. However, whether Rpc82 interacts with a transcription factor is still not known. Here, we report that a structurally disordered insertion in the third WH domain of Rpc82 is important for cell growth and in vitro transcription activity. Site-specific photo-crosslinking analysis indicated that the WH3 insertion interacts with the TFIIB-related transcription factor Brf1 within the pre-initiation complex (PIC). Moreover, crosslinking and hydroxyl radical probing analyses revealed Rpc82 interactions with the upstream DNA and the protrusion and wall domains of the pol III cleft. Our genetic and biochemical analyses thus provide new molecular insights into the function of Rpc82 in pol III transcription.
Project description:Transcription factors TFIIB and TFIIF are both required for RNA polymerase II preinitiation complex (PIC) assembly, but their roles at and downstream of initiation are not clear. We now show that TFIIF phosphorylated by casein kinase 2 remains competent to support PIC assembly but is not stably retained in the PIC. PICs completely lacking TFIIF are not defective in initiation or subsequent promoter clearance, demonstrating that TFIIF is not required for initiation or clearance. Lack of TFIIF in the PIC reduces transcription levels at some promoters, coincident with reduced retention of TFIIB. TFIIB is normally associated with the early elongation complex and is only destabilized at +12 to +13. However, if TFIIF is not retained in the PIC, TFIIB can be lost immediately after initiation. TFIIF therefore has an important role in stabilizing TFIIB within the PIC and after transcription initiates.
Project description:Recent X-ray crystallographic studies of Pol II in complex with the general transcription factor (GTF) IIB have begun to provide insights into the mechanism of transcription initiation. These structures have also shed light on the architecture of the transcription preinitiation complex (PIC). However, structural characterization of a functional PIC is still lacking, and even the topological arrangement of the GTFs in the Pol II complex is a matter of contention. We have extended our activity-based affinity crosslinking studies, initially developed to investigate the interaction of bacterial RNA polymerase with ?, to the eukaryotic transcription machinery. Towards that end, we sought to identify GTFs that are within the Pol II active site in a functioning PIC. We provide biochemical evidence that TFIIB is located within ?9 Å of the -2 site of promoter DNA, where it is positioned to play a role in de novo transcription initiation.
Project description:Bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase is the best-characterized member of a widespread family of single-subunit RNA polymerases. Crystal structures of T7 RNA polymerase initiation and elongation complexes have provided a wealth of detailed information on RNA polymerase interactions with the promoter and transcription bubble, but the absence of DNA downstream of the melted region of the template in the initiation complex structure, and the absence of DNA upstream of the transcription bubble in the elongation complex structure means that our picture of the functional architecture of T7 RNA polymerase transcription complexes remains incomplete. Here, we use the site-specifically tethered chemical nucleases and functional characterization of directed T7 RNAP mutants to both reveal the architecture of the duplex DNA that flanks the transcription bubble in the T7 RNAP initiation and elongation complexes, and to define the function of the interactions made by these duplex elements. We find that downstream duplex interactions made with a cluster of lysine residues (K711/K713/K714) are present during both elongation and initiation, where they contribute to stabilizing a bend in the downstream DNA that is important for promoter opening. The upstream DNA in the elongation complex is also found to be sharply bent at the upstream edge of the transcription bubble, thereby allowing formation of upstream duplex:polymerase interactions that contribute to elongation complex stability.
Project description:Compared with eukaryotes, the archaeal transcription initiation machinery-commonly known as the Pre-Initiation Complex-is relatively simple. The archaeal PIC consists of the TFIIB ortholog TFB, TBP, and an 11-subunit RNA polymerase (RNAP). The relatively small size of the entire archaeal PIC makes it amenable to structural analysis. Using purified RNAP, TFB, and TBP from the thermophile Pyrococcus furiosus, we assembled the biochemically active PIC at 65ºC. The intact archaeal PIC was isolated by implementing a cross-linking technique followed by size-exclusion chromatography, and the structure of this 440 kDa assembly was determined using electron microscopy and single-particle reconstruction techniques. Combining difference maps with crystal structure docking of various sub-domains, TBP and TFB were localized within the macromolecular PIC. TBP/TFB assemble near the large RpoB subunit and the RpoD/L "foot" domain behind the RNAP central cleft. This location mimics that of yeast TBP and TFIIB in complex with yeast RNAP II. Collectively, these results define the structural organization of the archaeal transcription machinery and suggest a conserved core PIC architecture.
Project description:In eukaryotic translation initiation, AUG recognition of the mRNA requires accommodation of Met-tRNAi in a 'PIN' state, which is antagonized by the factor eIF1. eIF5 is a GTPase activating protein (GAP) of eIF2 that additionally promotes stringent AUG selection, but the molecular basis of its dual function was unknown. We present a cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) reconstruction of a yeast 48S pre-initiation complex (PIC), at an overall resolution of 3.0 Å, featuring the N-terminal domain (NTD) of eIF5 bound to the 40S subunit at the location vacated by eIF1. eIF5 interacts with and allows a more accommodated orientation of Met-tRNAi. Substitutions of eIF5 residues involved in the eIF5-NTD/tRNAi interaction influenced initiation at near-cognate UUG codonsin vivo, and the closed/open PIC conformation in vitro, consistent with direct stabilization of the codon:anticodon duplex by the wild-type eIF5-NTD. The present structure reveals the basis for a key role of eIF5 in start-codon selection.
Project description:To directly map the position of promoter DNA within the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription preinitiation complex (PIC), FeBABE was tethered to specific sites within the HIS4 promoter and used to map exposed surfaces of Pol II and the general transcription factors in proximity to DNA. Our results distinguish between previously proposed models for PIC structure and demonstrate that downstream promoter DNA is positioned over the central cleft of Pol II, with DNA upstream of TATA extending toward the Pol II subunit Rpb3. Also mapped were segments of TFIIB, TFIIE, TFIIF and TFIIH in proximity to promoter DNA. DNA downstream of the transcription bubble maps to a path between the two helicase subdomains of the TFIIH subunit Rad25 (also called XPB). Together, our results show how the general factors and Pol II converge on promoter DNA within the PIC.
Project description:RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription initiation requires the action of the transcription factor IIIB (TFIIIB) and is highly regulated. Here, we determine the structures of Pol III pre-initiation complexes (PICs) using single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). We observe stable Pol III-TFIIIB complexes using nucleic acid scaffolds mimicking various functional states, in which TFIIIB tightly encircles the upstream promoter DNA. There is an intricate interaction between TFIIIB and Pol III, which stabilizes the winged-helix domains of the C34 subunit of Pol III over the active site cleft. The architecture of Pol III PIC more resembles that of the Pol II PIC than the Pol I PIC. In addition, we also obtain a 3D reconstruction of Pol III in complex with TFIIIB using the elongation complex (EC) scaffold, shedding light on the mechanism of facilitated recycling of Pol III prior to transcription re-initiation.