Co-transcriptional RNA cleavage provides a failsafe termination mechanism for yeast RNA polymerase I.
Braglia P., Kawauchi J., Proudfoot NJ.
Ribosomal RNA, transcribed by RNA polymerase (Pol) I, accounts for most cellular RNA. Since Pol I transcribes rDNA repeats with high processivity and polymerase density, transcription termination is a critical process. Early in vitro studies proposed polymerase pausing by Reb1 and transcript release at the T-rich element T1 determined transcription termination. However recent in vivo studies revealed a 'torpedo' mechanism for Pol I termination: co-transcriptional RNA cleavage by Rnt1 provides an entry site for the 5'-3' exonuclease Rat1 that degrades Pol I-associated transcripts destabilizing the transcription complex. Significantly Rnt1 inactivation in vivo reveals a second co-transcriptional RNA cleavage event at T1 which provides Pol I with an alternative termination pathway. An intact Reb1-binding site is also required for Rnt1-independent termination. Consequently our results reconcile the original Reb1-mediated termination pathway as part of a failsafe mechanism for this essential transcription process.