Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cdk7 mediates RPB1-driven mRNA synthesis in Toxoplasma gondii

 2016 Oct 19;6:35288. doi: 10.1038/srep35288.


Cyclin-dependent kinase 7 in conjunction with CyclinH and Mat1 activates cell cycle CDKs and is a part of the general transcription factor TFIIH. Role of Cdk7 is well characterized in model eukaryotes however its relevance in protozoan parasites has not been investigated. This important regulator of key processes warrants closer examination particularly in this parasite given its unique cell cycle progression and flexible mode of replication. We report functional characterization of TgCdk7 and its partners TgCyclinH and TgMat1. Recombinant Cdk7 displays kinase activity upon binding its cyclin partner and this activity is further enhanced in presence of Mat1. The activated kinase phosphorylates C-terminal domain of TgRPB1 suggesting its role in parasite transcription. Therefore, the function of Cdk7 in CTD phosphorylation and RPB1 mediated transcription was investigated using Cdk7 inhibitor. Unphosphorylated CTD binds promoter DNA while phosphorylation by Cdk7 triggers its dissociation from DNA with implications for transcription initiation. Inhibition of Cdk7 in the parasite led to strong reduction in Serine 5 phosphorylation of TgRPB1-CTD at the promoters of constitutively expressed actin1 and sag1 genes with concomitant reduction of both nascent RNA synthesis and 5'-capped transcripts. Therefore, we provide compelling evidence for crucial role of TgCdk7 kinase activity in mRNA synthesis.

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