Dual functions of PCF11 – all done by halting RNA production

Dual functions of PCF11 – all done by halting RNA production

Transcription, the process by which DNA is copied into RNA, needs to be stopped at the right time to ensure the production of accurate RNA molecules. Transcription termination is coupled with the processing of the newly generated RNA’s tail: first it is cleaved and then a string of adenine bases is appended to it. This is the achieved by the cleavage and polyadenylation (CPA) complex. It was known from yeast studies that a component of the CPA complex, PCF11, participates in both RNA tail processing and transcription termination.

Kinga Kamieniarz-Gdula (Proudfoot Lab) and her colleagues characterised PCF11 in human and zebrafish by using state-of-the-art sequencing techniques. They found that PCF11 enhances both CPA and transcription termination in human cells, and is indispensable for zebrafish development. PCF11 increases the expression of genes that are close to each other by stopping RNA polymerase II from transcribing aberrantly into the neighbouring gene. Conversely, PCF11 lowers the expression of many transcriptional regulators by inducing premature termination. This research shows that transcription termination not only puts finishing touches on the RNA, but also regulates gene expression.

Sheng Kai Pong

Kamieniarz-Gdula K, Gdula MR., Panser K, Nojima T, Monks J, Wisniewski JR, Riepsaame J, Brockdorff N, Pauli A, Proudfoot NJ (2019) 

Molecular Cell. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2019.01.027.