Glutamic acid-371 of the barnase homology domain in RNA polymerase II is not required for SII-activated RNA cleavage

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Publication Date

January 1997


RNA polymerase II contains a ribonuclease activity which is stimulated by the transcription elongation factor SII. This nuclease shortens the nascent RNA and facilitates relief of transcriptional arrest by allowing the enzyme to make multiple attempts to read through an obstacle to transcription. The catalytic center of this ribonuclease is unknown, although a region of the enzyme's second largest subunit shares local sequence similarly with barnase and other bacterial ribonucleases. To test the role of the barnase homology region in SII-activated cleavage, we engineered a single amino acid change in the Saccharomyces cerevisiae enzyme at a position homologous to a catalytic residue of barnase (Glu-371) and has been suggested as a participant in active site chemistry of RNA polymerase II. We purified RNA polymerase II from mutant yeast and assayed its ability to cleave and re-extend the nascent RNA following SII treatment. We find no defects in this function of the mutant enzyme, suggesting that the barnase homology region does not represent the active site of the SII-activated nuclease. These mutant yeast cells were also resistant to mycophenolic acid, which slows the growth of some yeast mutants bearing elongation defective RNA polymerase II or mutant elongation factor SII.


Molecular Genetics and Genomics





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