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Nat Commun. 2017 Jun 6;8:15741. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15741.

Architecture of the RNA polymerase II-Paf1C-TFIIS transcription elongation complex.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society, Am Fassberg 11, Göttingen 37077, Germany.
Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry, Max-Planck-Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Am Fassberg 11, Göttingen 37077, Germany.
Bioanalytics Group, Institute for Clinical Chemistry, University Medical Center, Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Strasse 40, Göttingen 37075, Germany.
Department of Molecular Structural Biology, Max-Planck-Institute for Biochemistry, Am Klopferspitz 18, Martinsried 82152, Germany.


The conserved polymerase-associated factor 1 complex (Paf1C) plays multiple roles in chromatin transcription and genomic regulation. Paf1C comprises the five subunits Paf1, Leo1, Ctr9, Cdc73 and Rtf1, and binds to the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) transcription elongation complex (EC). Here we report the reconstitution of Paf1C from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and a structural analysis of Paf1C bound to a Pol II EC containing the elongation factor TFIIS. Cryo-electron microscopy and crosslinking data reveal that Paf1C is highly mobile and extends over the outer Pol II surface from the Rpb2 to the Rpb3 subunit. The Paf1-Leo1 heterodimer and Cdc73 form opposite ends of Paf1C, whereas Ctr9 bridges between them. Consistent with the structural observations, the initiation factor TFIIF impairs Paf1C binding to Pol II, whereas the elongation factor TFIIS enhances it. We further show that Paf1C is globally required for normal mRNA transcription in yeast. These results provide a three-dimensional framework for further analysis of Paf1C function in transcription through chromatin.

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