Structural Insights into the Eukaryotic Transcription Initiation Machinery.
ABSTRACT: 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:For the initiation of transcription, RNA polymerase II (Pol II) assembles with general transcription factors on promoter DNA to form the pre-initiation complex (PIC). Here we report cryo-electron microscopy structures of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae PIC and PIC-core Mediator complex at nominal resolutions of 4.7?Å and 5.8?Å, respectively. The structures reveal transcription factor IIH (TFIIH), and suggest how the core and kinase TFIIH modules function in the opening of promoter DNA and the phosphorylation of Pol II, respectively. The TFIIH core subunit Ssl2 (a homologue of human XPB) is positioned on downstream DNA by the 'E-bridge' helix in TFIIE, consistent with TFIIE-stimulated DNA opening. The TFIIH kinase module subunit Tfb3 (MAT1 in human) anchors the kinase Kin28 (CDK7), which is mobile in the PIC but preferentially located between the Mediator hook and shoulder in the PIC-core Mediator complex. Open spaces between the Mediator head and middle modules may allow access of the kinase to its substrate, the C-terminal domain of Pol II.
Project description:The general transcription factor IID (TFIID) plays a central role in the initiation of RNA polymerase II (Pol II)-dependent transcription by nucleating pre-initiation complex (PIC) assembly at the core promoter. TFIID comprises the TATA-binding protein (TBP) and 13 TBP-associated factors (TAF1-13), which specifically interact with a variety of core promoter DNA sequences. Here we present the structure of human TFIID in complex with TFIIA and core promoter DNA, determined by single-particle cryo-electron microscopy at sub-nanometre resolution. All core promoter elements are contacted by subunits of TFIID, with TAF1 and TAF2 mediating major interactions with the downstream promoter. TFIIA bridges the TBP-TATA complex with lobe B of TFIID. We also present the cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of a fully assembled human TAF-less PIC. Superposition of common elements between the two structures provides novel insights into the general role of TFIID in promoter recognition, PIC assembly, and transcription initiation.
Project description:The Mediator complex is a multi-subunit assembly that appears to be required for regulating expression of most RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcripts, which include protein-coding and most non-coding RNA genes. Mediator and pol II function within the pre-initiation complex (PIC), which consists of Mediator, pol II, TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIID, TFIIE, TFIIF and TFIIH and is approximately 4.0 MDa in size. Mediator serves as a central scaffold within the PIC and helps regulate pol II activity in ways that remain poorly understood. Mediator is also generally targeted by sequence-specific, DNA-binding transcription factors (TFs) that work to control gene expression programs in response to developmental or environmental cues. At a basic level, Mediator functions by relaying signals from TFs directly to the pol II enzyme, thereby facilitating TF-dependent regulation of gene expression. Thus, Mediator is essential for converting biological inputs (communicated by TFs) to physiological responses (via changes in gene expression). In this review, we summarize an expansive body of research on the Mediator complex, with an emphasis on yeast and mammalian complexes. We focus on the basics that underlie Mediator function, such as its structure and subunit composition, and describe its broad regulatory influence on gene expression, ranging from chromatin architecture to transcription initiation and elongation, to mRNA processing. We also describe factors that influence Mediator structure and activity, including TFs, non-coding RNAs and the CDK8 module.
Project description:Transcription and regulation of genes originate from transcription pre-initiation complexes (PICs). Their structural and positional organization across eukaryotic genomes is unknown. Here we applied lambda exonuclease to chromatin immunoprecipitates (termed ChIP-exo) to examine the precise location of 6,045 PICs in Saccharomyces. PICs, including RNA polymerase II and protein complexes TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIID (or TBP), TFIIE, TFIIF, TFIIH and TFIIK were positioned within promoters and excluded from coding regions. Exonuclease patterns were in agreement with crystallographic models of the PIC, and were sufficiently precise to identify TATA-like elements at so-called TATA-less promoters. These PICs and their transcription start sites were positionally constrained at TFIID-engaged downstream +1 nucleosomes. At TATA-box-containing promoters, which are depleted of TFIID, a +1 nucleosome was positioned to be in competition with the PIC, which may allow greater latitude in start-site selection. Our genomic localization of messenger RNA and non-coding RNA PICs reveals that two PICs, in inverted orientation, may occupy the flanking borders of nucleosome-free regions. Their unambiguous detection may help distinguish bona fide genes from transcriptional noise.
Project description:The macromolecular assembly required to initiate transcription of protein-coding genes, known as the Pre-Initiation Complex (PIC), consists of multiple protein complexes and is approximately 3.5 MDa in size. At the heart of this assembly is the Mediator complex, which helps regulate PIC activity and interacts with the RNA polymerase II (pol II) enzyme. The structure of the human Mediator-pol II interface is not well-characterized, whereas attempts to structurally define the Mediator-pol II interaction in yeast have relied on incomplete assemblies of Mediator and/or pol II and have yielded inconsistent interpretations. We have assembled the complete, 1.9 MDa human Mediator-pol II-TFIIF complex from purified components and have characterized its structural organization using cryo-electron microscopy and single-particle reconstruction techniques. The orientation of pol II within this assembly was determined by crystal structure docking and further validated with projection matching experiments, allowing the structural organization of the entire human PIC to be envisioned. Significantly, pol II orientation within the Mediator-pol II-TFIIF assembly can be reconciled with past studies that determined the location of other PIC components relative to pol II itself. Pol II surfaces required for interacting with TFIIB, TFIIE, and promoter DNA (i.e., the pol II cleft) are exposed within the Mediator-pol II-TFIIF structure; RNA exit is unhindered along the RPB4/7 subunits; upstream and downstream DNA is accessible for binding additional factors; and no major structural re-organization is necessary to accommodate the large, multi-subunit TFIIH or TFIID complexes. The data also reveal how pol II binding excludes Mediator-CDK8 subcomplex interactions and provide a structural basis for Mediator-dependent control of PIC assembly and function. Finally, parallel structural analysis of Mediator-pol II complexes lacking TFIIF reveal that TFIIF plays a key role in stabilizing pol II orientation within the assembly.
Project description: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:Eukaryotic transcription initiation requires the assembly of general transcription factors into a pre-initiation complex that ensures the accurate loading of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) at the transcription start site. The molecular mechanism and function of this assembly have remained elusive due to lack of structural information. Here we have used an in vitro reconstituted system to study the stepwise assembly of human TBP, TFIIA, TFIIB, Pol II, TFIIF, TFIIE and TFIIH onto promoter DNA using cryo-electron microscopy. Our structural analyses provide pseudo-atomic models at various stages of transcription initiation that illuminate critical molecular interactions, including how TFIIF engages Pol II and promoter DNA to stabilize both the closed pre-initiation complex and the open-promoter complex, and to regulate start--initiation complexes, combined with the localization of the TFIIH helicases XPD and XPB, support a DNA translocation model of XPB and explain its essential role in promoter opening.
Project description:Trypanosomes are protistan parasites that diverged early in evolution from most eukaryotes. Their streamlined genomes are packed with arrays of tandemly linked genes that are transcribed polycistronically by RNA polymerase (pol) II. Individual mRNAs are processed from pre-mRNA by spliced leader (SL) trans splicing and polyadenylation. While there is no strong evidence that general transcription factors are needed for transcription initiation at these gene arrays, a RNA pol II transcription pre-initiation complex (PIC) is formed on promoters of SLRNA genes, which encode the small nuclear SL RNA, the SL donor in trans splicing. The factors that form the PIC are extremely divergent orthologues of the small nuclear RNA-activating complex, TBP, TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIIH, TFIIE and Mediator. Here, we functionally characterized a heterodimeric complex of unannotated, nuclear proteins that interacts with RNA pol II and is essential for PIC formation, SL RNA synthesis in vivo, SLRNA transcription in vitro, and parasite viability. These functional attributes suggest that the factor represents TFIIF although the amino acid sequences are too divergent to firmly make this conclusion. This work strongly indicates that early-diverged trypanosomes have orthologues of each and every general transcription factor, requiring them for the synthesis of SL RNA.
Project description:Transcription preinitiation complexes (PICs) are vital assemblies whose function underlies the expression of protein-encoding genes. Cryo-EM advances have begun to uncover their structural organization. Nevertheless, functional analyses are hindered by incompletely modeled regions. Here we integrate all available cryo-EM data to build a practically complete human PIC structural model. This enables simulations that reveal the assembly's global motions, define PIC partitioning into dynamic communities and delineate how structural modules function together to remodel DNA. We identify key TFIIE-p62 interactions that link core-PIC to TFIIH. p62 rigging interlaces p34, p44 and XPD while capping the DNA-binding and ATP-binding sites of XPD. PIC kinks and locks substrate DNA, creating negative supercoiling within the Pol II cleft to facilitate promoter opening. Mapping disease mutations associated with xeroderma pigmentosum, trichothiodystrophy and Cockayne syndrome onto defined communities reveals clustering into three mechanistic classes that affect TFIIH helicase functions, protein interactions and interface dynamics.
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.