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Mol Cell Biol. 1991 Sep;11(9):4669-78.

Mutations in the three largest subunits of yeast RNA polymerase II that affect enzyme assembly.

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  • 1Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Nine Cambridge Center, Massachusetts 02142.


Mutations in the three largest subunits of yeast RNA polymerase II (RPB1, RPB2, and RPB3) were investigated for their effects on RNA polymerase II structure and assembly. Among 23 temperature-sensitive mutations, 6 mutations affected enzyme assembly, as assayed by immunoprecipitation of epitope-tagged subunits. In all six assembly mutants, RNA polymerase II subunits synthesized at the permissive temperature were incorporated into stably assembled, immunoprecipitable enzyme and remained stably associated when cells were shifted to the nonpermissive temperature, whereas subunits synthesized at the nonpermissive temperature were not incorporated into a completely assembled enzyme. The observation that subunit subcomplexes accumulated in assembly-mutant cells at the nonpermissive temperature led us to investigate whether these subcomplexes were assembly intermediates or merely byproducts of mutant enzyme instability. The time course of assembly of RPB1, RPB2, and RPB3 was investigated in wild-type cells and subsequently in mutant cells. Glycerol gradient fractionation of extracts of cells pulse-labeled for various times revealed that a subcomplex of RPB2 and RPB3 appears soon after subunit synthesis and can be chased into fully assembled enzyme. The RPB2-plus-RPB3 subcomplexes accumulated in all RPB1 assembly mutants at the nonpermissive temperature but not in an RPB2 or RPB3 assembly mutant. These data indicate that RPB2 and RPB3 form a complex that subsequently interacts with RPB1 during the assembly of RNA polymerase II.

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