The diverse functions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae RNA polymerase II are partitioned among its 12 subunits, designated RPB1-RPB12. Although multiple functions have been assigned to the three largest subunits, RPB1, RPB2, and RPB3, the functions of the remaining smaller subunits are unknown. We have determined the function of one of the smaller subunits, RPB9, by demonstrating that it is necessary for accurate start site selection. Transcription in the absence of RPB9 initiates farther upstream at new and previously minor start sites both at the CYC1 promoter in vitro and at the CYC1, ADH1, HIS4, H2B-1, and RPB6 promoters in vivo. Immunoprecipitation of RNA polymerase II from cells lacking the RPB9 gene revealed that all of the remaining 11 subunits are assembled into the enzyme, suggesting that the start site defect is attributable solely to the absence of RPB9. In support of this hypothesis, we have shown that addition of wild-type recombinant RPB9 completely corrects for the start site defect seen in vitro. A mutated recombinant RPB9 protein, with an alteration in a metal-binding domain required for high temperature growth and accurate start site selection in vivo, was at least 10-fold less effective at correcting the start site defect in vitro. RPB9 appears to play a unique role in transcription initiation, as the defects revealed in its absence are distinct from those seen with mutants in RNA polymerase subunit RPB1 and factor e (TFIIB), two other yeast proteins also involved in start site selection.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Biology
- Saccharomyces cerevisiae
- TATA element
- mRNA initiation