Stimulation of Pol III-dependent 5S rRNA and U6 snRNA gene expression by AP-1 transcription factors

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RNA polymerase III transcribes structurally diverse group of essential noncoding RNAs including 5S ribosomal RNA (5SrRNA) and U6 snRNA. These noncoding RNAs are involved in RNA processing and ribosome biogenesis, thus, coupling Pol III activity to the rate of protein synthesis, cell growth, and proliferation. Even though a few Pol II-associated transcription factors have been reported to participate in Pol III-dependent transcription, its activation by activator protein 1 (AP-1) factors, c-Fos and c-Jun, has remained unexplored. Here, we show that c-Fos and c-Jun bind to specific sites in the regulatory regions of 5S rRNA (type I) and U6 snRNA (type III) gene promoters and stimulate their transcription. Our chromatin immunoprecipitation studies suggested that endogenous AP-1 factors bind to their cognate promoter elements during the G1/S transition of cell cycle apparently synchronous with Pol III transcriptional activity. Furthermore, the interaction of c-Jun with histone acetyltransferase p300 promoted the recruitment of p300/CBP complex on the promoters and facilitated the occupancy of Pol III transcriptional machinery via histone acetylation and chromatin remodeling. The findings of our study, together, suggest that AP-1 factors are novel regulators of Pol III-driven 5S rRNA and U6 snRNA expression with a potential role in cell proliferation.

RNA polymerase III-transcribed noncoding RNAs are involved in RNA splicing, ribosome biogenesis and protein synthesis. However, the transcriptional regulation of Pol III-encoded genes is poorly understood. This study suggests that RNA Pol II-associated transcription factors c-Jun and c-Fos are shared during Pol III-dependent transcription. The sharing of transcription factors by distinct classes of RNA polymerases may be essential for the coordinated regulation of gene expression.

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