Letter

Nature 436, 735-739 (4 August 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03848; Received 13 February 2005; Accepted 19 May 2005

There is a Brief Communication Arising (9 October 2014) associated with this document.

Transcription of mammalian messenger RNAs by a nuclear RNA polymerase of mitochondrial origin

Julia E. Kravchenko1,2, Igor B. Rogozin3, Eugene V. Koonin3 & Peter M. Chumakov1,2

  1. Lerner Research Institute, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA
  2. Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, 119991 Moscow, Russia
  3. National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA

Correspondence to: Peter M. Chumakov1,2 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to P.M.C. (Email: chumakp@ccf.org).

Transcription of eukaryotic genes is performed by three nuclear RNA polymerases, of which RNA polymerase II is thought to be solely responsible for the synthesis of messenger RNAs1. Here we show that transcription of some mRNAs in humans and rodents is mediated by a previously unknown single-polypeptide nuclear RNA polymerase (spRNAP-IV). spRNAP-IV is expressed from an alternative transcript of the mitochondrial RNA polymerase gene (POLRMT). The spRNAP-IV lacks 262 amino-terminal amino acids of mitochondrial RNA polymerase, including the mitochondrial-targeting signal, and localizes to the nucleus. Transcription by spRNAP-IV is resistant to the RNA polymease II inhibitor alpha-amanitin but is sensitive to short interfering RNA specific for the POLRMT gene. The promoters for spRNAP-IV differ substantially from those used by RNA polymerase II, do not respond to transcriptional enhancers and contain a common functional sequence motif.

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