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Nucleic Acids Res. 2012 Jul;40(12):5591-601. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks220. Epub 2012 Mar 6.

Crosslinking-MS analysis reveals RNA polymerase I domain architecture and basis of rRNA cleavage.

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  • 1Gene Center and Department of Biochemistry, Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM), Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 25, 81377 Munich, Germany.


RNA polymerase (Pol) I contains a 10-subunit catalytic core that is related to the core of Pol II and includes subunit A12.2. In addition, Pol I contains the heterodimeric subcomplexes A14/43 and A49/34.5, which are related to the Pol II subcomplex Rpb4/7 and the Pol II initiation factor TFIIF, respectively. Here we used lysine-lysine crosslinking, mass spectrometry (MS) and modeling based on five crystal structures, to extend the previous homology model of the Pol I core, to confirm the location of A14/43 and to position A12.2 and A49/34.5 on the core. In the resulting model of Pol I, the C-terminal ribbon (C-ribbon) domain of A12.2 reaches the active site via the polymerase pore, like the C-ribbon of the Pol II cleavage factor TFIIS, explaining why the intrinsic RNA cleavage activity of Pol I is strong, in contrast to the weak cleavage activity of Pol II. The A49/34.5 dimerization module resides on the polymerase lobe, like TFIIF, whereas the A49 tWH domain resides above the cleft, resembling parts of TFIIE. This indicates that Pol I and also Pol III are distantly related to a Pol II-TFIIS-TFIIF-TFIIE complex.

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