Structure, mechanism, and regulation of mitochondrial DNA transcription initiationMitochondria are specialized compartments that produce requisite ATP to fuel cellular functions and serve as centers of metabolite processing, cellular signaling, and apoptosis. To accomplish these roles, mitochondria rely on the genetic information in their small genome (mitochondrial DNA) and the nucleus. A growing appreciation for mitochondria's role in a myriad of human diseases, including inherited genetic disorders, degenerative diseases, inflammation, and cancer, has fueled the study of biochemical mechanisms that control mitochondrial function.
Revisiting T7 RNA polymerase transcription in vitro with the Broccoli RNA aptamer as a simplified real-time fluorescent reporterMethods for rapid and high-throughput screening of transcription in vitro to examine reaction conditions, enzyme mutants, promoter variants, and small molecule modulators can be extremely valuable tools. However, these techniques may be difficult to establish or inaccessible to many researchers. To develop a straightforward and cost-effective platform for assessing transcription in vitro, we used the “Broccoli” RNA aptamer as a direct, real-time fluorescent transcript readout. To demonstrate the utility of our approach, we screened the effect of common reaction conditions and components on bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase (RNAP) activity using a common quantitative PCR instrument for fluorescence detection.
Rate-limiting pyrophosphate release by hepatitis C virus polymerase NS5B improves fidelityThe hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase NS5B is responsible for the replication of the viral genome. Previous studies have uncovered NTP-mediated excision mechanisms that may be responsible for aiding in maintaining fidelity (the frequency of incorrect incorporation events relative to correct), but little is known about the fidelity of NS5B. In this study, we used transient-state kinetics to examine the mechanistic basis for polymerase fidelity. We observe a wide range of efficiency for incorporation of various mismatched base pairs and have uncovered a mechanism in which the rate constant for pyrophosphate release is slowed for certain misincorporation events.
Defining the divergent enzymatic properties of RNA polymerases I and IIEukaryotes express at least three nuclear DNA-dependent RNA polymerases (Pols) responsible for synthesizing all RNA required by the cell. Despite sharing structural homology, they have functionally diverged to suit their distinct cellular roles. Although the Pols have been studied extensively, direct comparison of their enzymatic properties is difficult because studies are often conducted under disparate experimental conditions and techniques. Here, we directly compare and reveal functional differences between Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pols I and II using a series of quantitative in vitro transcription assays.
Template-dependent inhibition of coronavirus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase by remdesivir reveals a second mechanism of actionRemdesivir (RDV) is a direct-acting antiviral agent that is used to treat patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). RDV targets the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS–CoV-2). We have previously shown that incorporation of the active triphosphate form of RDV (RDV-TP) at position i causes delayed chain termination at position i + 3. Here we demonstrate that the S861G mutation in RdRp eliminates chain termination, which confirms the existence of a steric clash between Ser-861 and the incorporated RDV-TP.
Mechanistic cross-talk between DNA/RNA polymerase enzyme kinetics and nucleotide substrate availability in cells: Implications for polymerase inhibitor discoveryEnzyme kinetic analysis reveals a dynamic relationship between enzymes and their substrates. Overall enzyme activity can be controlled by both protein expression and various cellular regulatory systems. Interestingly, the availability and concentrations of intracellular substrates can constantly change, depending on conditions and cell types. Here, we review previously reported enzyme kinetic parameters of cellular and viral DNA and RNA polymerases with respect to cellular levels of their nucleotide substrates.
Resistance to excision determines efficiency of hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase inhibition by nucleotide analogsNS5B is the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase that catalyzes the replication of the hepatitis C virus genome. It is a major target for antiviral drugs including nucleoside analogs, such as the prodrugs mericitabine and sofosbuvir, which get metabolized to 2′-fluoro-2′C-methylcytidine-5′-triphosphate and 2′-fluoro-2′C-methyluridine-5′-triphosphate, respectively. These analogs act as chain terminators after they are incorporated during RNA synthesis. Recently, it has been shown that NS5B can efficiently remove chain terminators by a nucleotide-mediated excision reaction that rescues RNA synthesis.
The C-terminal tails of the mitochondrial transcription factors Mtf1 and TFB2M are part of an autoinhibitory mechanism that regulates DNA bindingThe structurally homologous Mtf1 and TFB2M proteins serve as transcription initiation factors of mitochondrial RNA polymerases in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and humans, respectively. These transcription factors directly interact with the nontemplate strand of the transcription bubble to drive promoter melting. Given the key roles of Mtf1 and TFB2M in promoter-specific transcription initiation, it can be expected that the DNA binding activity of the mitochondrial transcription factors is regulated to prevent DNA binding at inappropriate times.
Remdesivir is a direct-acting antiviral that inhibits RNA-dependent RNA polymerase from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 with high potencyEffective treatments for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are urgently needed to control this current pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Replication of SARS-CoV-2 depends on the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), which is the likely target of the investigational nucleotide analogue remdesivir (RDV). RDV shows broad-spectrum antiviral activity against RNA viruses, and previous studies with RdRps from Ebola virus and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have revealed that delayed chain termination is RDV's plausible mechanism of action.
2′-C-methylated nucleotides terminate virus RNA synthesis by preventing active site closure of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymeraseThe 2′-C-methyl ribonucleosides are nucleoside analogs representing an important class of antiviral agents, especially against positive-strand RNA viruses. Their value is highlighted by the highly successful anti-hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir. When appropriately phosphorylated, these nucleotides are successfully incorporated into RNA by the virally encoded RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). This activity prevents further RNA extension, but the mechanism is poorly characterized. Previously, we had identified NMR signatures characteristic of formation of RdRp–RNA binary and RdRp–RNA–NTP ternary complexes for the poliovirus RdRp, including an open-to-closed conformational change necessary to prepare the active site for catalysis of phosphoryl transfer.
Ribonucleoside-5′-diphosphates (NDPs) support RNA polymerase transcription, suggesting NDPs may have been substrates for primordial nucleic acid biosynthesisA better understanding of the structural basis for the preferences of RNA and DNA polymerases for nucleoside-5′-triphosphates (NTPs) could help define the catalytic mechanisms for nucleotidyl transfer during RNA and DNA synthesis and the origin of primordial nucleic acid biosynthesis. We show here that ribonucleoside-5′-diphosphates (NDPs) can be utilized as substrates by RNA polymerase (RNAP). We found that NDP incorporation is template-specific and that noncognate NDPs are not incorporated. Compared with the natural RNAP substrates, NTPs, the Km of RNAP for NDPs was increased ∼4-fold, whereas the Vmax was decreased ∼200-fold.
Chemical footprinting and kinetic assays reveal dual functions for highly conserved eukaryotic tRNAHis guanylyltransferase residuestRNAHis guanylyltransferase (Thg1) adds a single guanine to the −1 position of tRNAHis as part of its maturation. This seemingly modest addition of one nucleotide to tRNAHis ensures translational fidelity by providing a critical identity element for the histidyl aminoacyl tRNA synthetase (HisRS). Like HisRS, Thg1 utilizes the GUG anticodon for selective tRNAHis recognition, and Thg1-tRNA complex structures have revealed conserved residues that interact with anticodon nucleotides. Separately, kinetic analysis of alanine variants has demonstrated that many of these same residues are required for catalytic activity.
Biochemical characterization of the Lassa virus L proteinThe L protein of arena- and bunyaviruses is structurally and functionally related to the orthomyxovirus polymerase complex. It plays a central role in the viral life cycle, as it replicates the virus genome and generates viral mRNA via a cap-snatching mechanism. Here, we aimed to biochemically characterize the L protein of Lassa virus, a human-pathogenic arenavirus endemic in West Africa. Full-length 250-kDa L protein was expressed using a baculovirus expression system. A low-resolution structure calculated from small-angle X-ray scattering data revealed a conformation similar to that in the crystal structure of the orthomyxovirus polymerase complex.
Human DNA polymerase η has reverse transcriptase activity in cellular environmentsClassical DNA and RNA polymerase (pol) enzymes have defined roles with their respective substrates, but several pols have been found to have multiple functions. We reported previously that purified human DNA pol η (hpol η) can incorporate both deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs) and ribonucleoside triphosphates (rNTPs) and can use both DNA and RNA as substrates. X-ray crystal structures revealed that two pol η residues, Phe-18 and Tyr-92, behave as steric gates to influence sugar selectivity.
Minimalism and functionality: Structural lessons from the heterodimeric N4 bacteriophage RNA polymerase IIGenomes of phages, mitochondria, and chloroplasts are transcribed by a diverse group of transcriptional machineries with structurally related single-subunit RNA polymerases (RNAPs). Our understanding of transcription mechanisms of these enzymes is predominantly based on biochemical and structural studies of three most-studied members, transcription factor–independent phage T7 RNAP, transcription factor–dependent phage N4 virion-encapsidated RNAP, and transcription factor–dependent mitochondrial RNAPs (mtRNAP).
Transcriptional fidelities of human mitochondrial POLRMT, yeast mitochondrial Rpo41, and phage T7 single-subunit RNA polymerasesSingle-subunit RNA polymerases (RNAPs) are present in phage T7 and in mitochondria of all eukaryotes. This RNAP class plays important roles in biotechnology and cellular energy production, but we know little about its fidelity and error rates. Herein, we report the error rates of three single-subunit RNAPs measured from the catalytic efficiencies of correct and all possible incorrect nucleotides. The average error rates of T7 RNAP (2 × 10−6), yeast mitochondrial Rpo41 (6 × 10−6), and human mitochondrial POLRMT (RNA polymerase mitochondrial) (2 × 10−5) indicate high accuracy/fidelity of RNA synthesis resembling those of replicative DNA polymerases.
Solution structure of domain 1.1 of the σA factor from Bacillus subtilis is preformed for binding to the RNA polymerase coreBacterial RNA polymerase (RNAP) requires σ factors to recognize promoter sequences. Domain 1.1 of primary σ factors (σ1.1) prevents their binding to promoter DNA in the absence of RNAP, and when in complex with RNAP, it occupies the DNA-binding channel of RNAP. Currently, two 3D structures of σ1.1 are available: from Escherichia coli in complex with RNAP and from T. maritima solved free in solution. However, these two structures significantly differ, and it is unclear whether this difference is due to an altered conformation upon RNAP binding or to differences in intrinsic properties between the proteins from these two distantly related species.
Triphosphate Reorientation of the Incoming Nucleotide as a Fidelity Checkpoint in Viral RNA-dependent RNA PolymerasesThe nucleotide incorporation fidelity of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) is important for maintaining functional genetic information but, at the same time, is also important for generating sufficient genetic diversity to escape the bottlenecks of the host's antiviral response. We have previously shown that the structural dynamics of the motif D loop are closely related to nucleotide discrimination. Previous studies have also suggested that there is a reorientation of the triphosphate of the incoming nucleotide, which is essential before nucleophilic attack from the primer RNA 3′-hydroxyl.
The Yeast Mitochondrial RNA Polymerase and Transcription Factor Complex Catalyzes Efficient Priming of DNA Synthesis on Single-stranded DNAPrimases use single-stranded (ss) DNAs as templates to synthesize short oligoribonucleotide primers that initiate lagging strand DNA synthesis or reprime DNA synthesis after replication fork collapse, but the origin of this activity in the mitochondria remains unclear. Herein, we show that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae mitochondrial RNA polymerase (Rpo41) and its transcription factor (Mtf1) is an efficient primase that initiates DNA synthesis on ssDNA coated with the yeast mitochondrial ssDNA-binding protein, Rim1.
Functional Evolution in Orthologous Cell-encoded RNA-dependent RNA PolymerasesMany eukaryotic organisms encode more than one RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) that probably emerged as a result of gene duplication. Such RdRP paralogs often participate in distinct RNA silencing pathways and show characteristic repertoires of enzymatic activities in vitro. However, to what extent members of individual paralogous groups can undergo functional changes during speciation remains an open question. We show that orthologs of QDE-1, an RdRP component of the quelling pathway in Neurospora crassa, have rapidly diverged in evolution at the amino acid sequence level.