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Factor dependent archaeal transcription termination




Walker, Julie, author
Santangelo, Thomas J., advisor
Montgomery, Tai, committee member
Stargell, Laurie, committee member
Yao, Tingting, committee member

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RNA polymerase activity is regulated by nascent RNA sequences, DNA template sequences and conserved transcription factors. Transcription factors regulate the activities of RNA polymerase (RNAP) at each stage of the transcription cycle: initiation, elongation, and termination. Many basal transcription factors with common ancestry are employed in eukaryotic and archaeal systems that directly bind to RNAP and influence intramolecular movements of RNAP and modulate DNA or RNA interactions. We describe and employ a flexible methodology to directly probe and quantify the binding of transcription factors to the archaeal RNAP in vivo. We demonstrate that binding of the conserved and essential archaeal transcription factor TFE to the archaeal RNAP is directed, in part, by interactions with the RpoE subunit of RNAP. As the surfaces involved are conserved in many eukaryotic and archaeal systems, the identified TFE-RNAP interactions are likely conserved in archaeal-eukaryal systems and represent an important point of contact that can influence the efficiency of transcription initiation. While many studies in archaea have focused on elucidating the mechanism of transcription initiation and elongation, studies on termination were slower to emerge. Transcription factors promoting initiation and elongation have been characterized in each Domain but transcription termination factors have only been identified in bacteria and eukarya. Here we characterize the first archaeal termination factor (termed Eta) capable of disrupting the transcription elongation complex, detail the rate of and requirements for Eta-mediated transcription termination and describe a role for Eta in transcription termination in vivo. Eta-mediated transcription termination is energy-dependent, requires upstream DNA sequences and disrupts transcription elongation complexes to release the nascent RNA to solution. Deletion of TK0566 (encoding Eta) is possible, but results in slow growth and renders cells sensitive to DNA damaging agents. Structure-function studies reveal that the N-terminal domain of Eta is not necessary for Eta-mediated termination in vitro, but Thermococcus kodakarensis cells lacking the N-terminal domain exhibit slow growth compared to parental strains. We report the first crystal structure of Eta that will undoubtedly lead to further structure-function analyses. The results obtained argue that the mechanisms employed by termination factors in archaea, eukarya, and bacteria to disrupt the transcription elongation complex may be conserved and that Eta stimulates release of stalled or arrested transcription elongation complexes.


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transcription termination
RNA polymerase


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