Genetic organization, length conservation, and evolution of RNA polymerase II carboxyl-terminal domain.
With a simple tandem iterated sequence, the carboxyl terminal domain (CTD) of eukaryotic RNA polymerase II (RNAP II) serves as the central coordinator of mRNA synthesis by harmonizing a diversity of sequential interactions with transcription and processing factors. Despite intense research interest, many key questions regarding functional and evolutionary constraints on the CTD remain unanswered; for example, what selects for the canonical heptad sequence, its tandem array across organismal diversity, and constant CTD length within given species and finally and how a sequence-identical, repetitive structure can orchestrate a diversity of simultaneous and sequential, stage-dependent interactions with both modifying enzymes and binding partners? Here we examine comparative sequence evolution of 58 RNAP II CTDs from diverse taxa representing all six major eukaryotic supergroups and employ integrated evolutionary genetic, biochemical, and biophysical analyses of the yeast CTD to further clarify how this repetitive sequence must be organized for optimal RNAP II function. We find that the CTD is composed of indivisible and independent functional units that span diheptapeptides and not only a flexible conformation around each unit but also an elastic overall structure is required. More remarkably, optimal CTD function always is achieved at approximately wild-type CTD length rather than number of functional units, regardless of the characteristics of the sequence present. Our combined observations lead us to advance an updated CTD working model, in which functional, and therefore, evolutionary constraints require a flexible CTD conformation determined by the CTD sequence and tandem register to accommodate the diversity of CTD-protein interactions and a specific CTD length rather than number of functional units to correctly order and organize global CTD-protein interactions. Patterns of conservation of these features across evolutionary diversity have important implications for comparative RNAP II function in eukaryotes and can more clearly direct specific research on CTD function in currently understudied organisms.
Liu, P; Kenney, JM; Stiller, JW; Greenleaf, AL
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)