The synthesis of messenger RNA is the primary event in gene expression and is central to the life of cells. mRNA production requires transcription by pol II and processing of the primary transcript by a set of proteins which carry out capping, splicing and cleavage/polyadenylation. Transcripts made in by polymerases other than pol II are not processed correctly into mature mRNA. A network of protein:protein contacts in the cell nucleus exists to couple transcription by pol II with the specific RNA processing events responsible for maturation of mRNA. The objective of this proposal is to elucidate how proteins communicate to achieve coupling of pol II transcription with RNA packaging and processing using biochemical and genetic approaches in mammalian cells, frog oocytes and budding yeast. Our research is testing the idea that mRNA is made by a """"""""factory"""""""" complex containing RNA pol II and RNA processing factors which contact it through a repetitive protein domain called the CTD. This model has changed the way we think about proteins which were once thought to operate independently but are now thought to be co-ordinated with one another in the nucleus. One important functional consequence of the integration between transcription and processing that we are beginning to uncover is that transcription factors can regulate the efficiency of RNA processing and conversely processing factors can potentially regulate transcription. This work may help elucidate how the transcription and processing of mRNAs are regulated under normal conditions and how they become mis-regulated in the disease state. Defects in splicing resulting of pre-mRNA's are responsible for a large fraction of all inherited diseases.
The specific aims of this work are: 1. To determine how mammalian capping, splicing and cleavage polyadenylation factors associate with pol II elongation complexes on genes in vivo. 2. To determine the extent to which introns are excised co-transcriptionally and what factors affect the efficiency of co-transcriptional splicing. 3. To test the CTD code hypothesis by determining the structural features of the CTD that contribute to co- transcriptional pre-mRNA processing, mRNA export and hnRNP packaging.
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