Analyzing RNA polymerase III by electron cryomicroscopy

Carlos Fernandez-Tornero, Bettina Boettcher, Umar Jan Rashid, Christoph W. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


Recent electron cryomicroscopy reconstructions have provided new insights into the overall organization of yeast RNA polymerase (Pol) III, responsible for the synthesis of small, non-translated RNAs. The structure of the free Pol III enzyme at 10 angstrom resolution provides an accurate framework to better understand its overall architecture and the structural organization and functional role of two Pol III-specific subcomplexes. Cryo-EM structures of elongating Pol III bound to DNA/RNA scaffolds show the rearrangement of the Pol III-specific subcomplexes that enclose incoming DNA. In one reconstruction downstream DNA and newly transcribed RNA can be followed over considerably longer distances as in the crystal structure of elongating Pol II. The Pol III transcription machinery is increasingly recognized as a possible target for cancer therapy. The recent cryo-EM reconstructions contribute to the molecular understanding of Pol III transcription as a prerequisite for targeting its components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-765
Number of pages6
JournalRna biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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