Drosha regulates gene expression independently of RNA cleavage function.
Gromak N., Dienstbier M., Macias S., Plass M., Eyras E., Cáceres JF., Proudfoot NJ.
Drosha is the main RNase III-like enzyme involved in the process of microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis in the nucleus. Using whole-genome ChIP-on-chip analysis, we demonstrate that, in addition to miRNA sequences, Drosha specifically binds promoter-proximal regions of many human genes in a transcription-dependent manner. This binding is not associated with miRNA production or RNA cleavage. Drosha knockdown in HeLa cells downregulated nascent gene transcription, resulting in a reduction of polyadenylated mRNA produced from these gene regions. Furthermore, we show that this function of Drosha is dependent on its N-terminal protein-interaction domain, which associates with the RNA-binding protein CBP80 and RNA Polymerase II. Consequently, we uncover a previously unsuspected RNA cleavage-independent function of Drosha in the regulation of human gene expression.