- The Cdk8 kinase module (CKM) is a dissociable part of the coactivator complex mediator, which regulates gene transcription by RNA polymerase II. The CKM has both negative and positive functions in gene transcription that remain poorly understood at the mechanistic level. In order to reconstitute the role of the CKM in transcription initiation, we prepared recombinant CKM from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We showed that CKM bound to the core mediator (cMed) complex, sterically inhibiting cMed from binding to the polymerase II preinitiation complex (PIC) in vitro.
- AF4/FMR2 family member 4 (AFF4) is the scaffold protein of the multisubunit super-elongation complex, which plays key roles in the release of RNA polymerase II from promoter-proximal pausing and in the transactivation of HIV-1 transcription. AFF4 consists of an intrinsically disordered N-terminal region that interacts with other super-elongation complex subunits and a C-terminal homology domain (CHD) that is conserved among AF4/FMR2 family proteins, including AFF1, AFF2, AFF3, and AFF4. Here, we solved the X-ray crystal structure of the CHD in human AFF4 (AFF4-CHD) to 2.2 Å resolution and characterized its biochemical properties.
- RNA polymerase II (Pol II) is the central enzyme that transcribes eukaryotic protein-coding genes to produce mRNA. The mushroom toxin α-amanitin binds Pol II and inhibits transcription at the step of RNA chain elongation. Pol II from yeast binds α-amanitin with micromolar affinity, whereas metazoan Pol II enzymes exhibit nanomolar affinities. Here, we present the high-resolution cryo-EM structure of α-amanitin bound to and inhibited by its natural target, the mammalian Pol II elongation complex.