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Volume 553 Issue 7688, 18 January 2018

The cover is a surface—ribbon hybrid image showing the topology of the RNA Pol III/TFIIIB/DNA complex. RNA polymerase III (Pol III) catalyses the transcription of short RNAs that are essential for protein synthesis during cell growth. Pol III is predominantly regulated at the level of transcription initiation, and dysregulated Pol III activity is linked to diseases including cancer. In this issue, two independent studies from the labs of Alessandro Vannini and Christoph Mãƒâller describe cryo-electron microscopy structures of the yeast Pol III pre-initiation complex (PIC) comprising the full 17-subunit Pol III and the three TFIIIB subunits TBP (pink), Brf1 (yellow) and Bdp1 (orange) bound to promoter DNA in various functional states (the loops stabilizing the unwound DNA strands at both sides of the cleft are depicted as bright cyan ribbons). The structures elucidate the detailed mechanisms of how Pol III is recruited to its target promoters and how promoter DNA is opened to form a stable transcription bubble. They also allow a comparison with the structures of Pol I and Pol II PICs. Cover image: Alessandro Vannini/Jeroen Claus (Phospho Biomedical Animation)

Research Highlight

Article

  • Article |

    Two hypervirulent ribotypes of the enteric pathogen Clostridium difficile, RT027 and RT078, have independently acquired unique mechanisms to metabolize low concentrations of the disaccharide trehalose, suggesting a correlation between the emergence of these ribotypes and the widespread adoption of trehalose in the human diet.

    • J. Collins
    • C. Robinson
    • R. A. Britton
  • Article |

    Cryo-EM structures of Pol III preinitiation complexes are presented, comprising Pol III and the transcription factor TFIIIB bound to a natural promoter in different functional states.

    • Matthias K. Vorländer
    • Heena Khatter
    • Christoph W. Müller
  • Article |

    Detailed structures of yeast RNA polymerase III and its initiation complex shed light on how the transcription of essential non-coding RNAs begins and allow comparisons with other RNA polymerases.

    • Guillermo Abascal-Palacios
    • Ewan Phillip Ramsay
    • Alessandro Vannini

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Career Guide

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    Career guide: China

    China’s scientific landscape is shifting fast. Where can you fit in?

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