Volume 553 Issue 7688, 18 January 2018

Volume 553 Issue 7688

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 Müller 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)

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