RNA polymerase III-specific general transcription factor IIIC contains a heterodimer resembling TFIIF Rap30/Rap74

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Transcription of tRNA-encoding genes by RNA polymerase (Pol) III requires the six-subunit general transcription factor IIIC that uses subcomplexes τA and τB to recognize two gene-internal promoter elements named A- and B-box. TheSchizosaccharomyces pombeτA subcomplex comprises subunits Sfc1, Sfc4 and Sfc7. The crystal structure of the Sfc1/Sfc7 heterodimer reveals similar domains and overall domain architecture to the Pol II-specific general transcription factor TFIIF Rap30/Rap74. The N-terminal Sfc1/Sfc7 dimerization module consists of a triple β-barrel similar to the N-terminal TFIIF Rap30/Rap74 dimerization module, whereas the C-terminal Sfc1 DNA-binding domain contains a winged-helix domain most similar to the TFIIF Rap30 C-terminal winged-helix domain. Sfc1 DNA-binding domain recognizes single and double-stranded DNA by an unknown mechanism. Several features observed for A-box recognition by τA resemble the recognition of promoters by bacterial RNA polymerase, where σ factor unfolds double-stranded DNA and stabilizes the non-coding DNA strand in an open conformation. Such a function has also been proposed for TFIIF, suggesting that the observed structural similarity between Sfc1/Sfc7 and TFIIF Rap30/Rap74 might also reflect similar functions.

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