Structure-Based Mechanisms of a Molecular RNA Polymerase/Chaperone Machine Required for Ribosome Biosynthesis
Y. H. Huang, T. Hilal, B. Loll, J. Burger, T. Mielke, C. Bottcher, N. Said and M. C. Wahl – 2020
Bacterial ribosomal RNAs are synthesized by a dedicated, conserved transcription-elongation complex that transcribes at high rates, shields RNA polymerase from premature termination, and supports co-transcriptional RNA folding, modification, processing, and ribosomal subunit assembly by presently unknown mechanisms. We have determined cryo-electron microscopy structures of complete Escherichia coli ribosomal RNA transcription elongation complexes, comprising RNA polymerase; DNA; RNA bearing an N-utilization-site-like anti-termination element; Nus factors A, B, E, and G; inositol mono-phosphatase SuhB; and ribosomal protein S4. Our structures and structure-informed functional analyses show that fast transcription and anti-termination involve suppression of NusA-stabilized pausing, enhancement of NusG-mediated anti-backtracking, sequestration of the NusG C-terminal domain from termination factor rho, and the rho blockade. Strikingly, the factors form a composite RNA chaperone around the RNA polymerase RNA-exit tunnel, which supports co-transcriptional RNA folding and annealing of distal RNA regions. Our work reveals a polymerase/chaperone machine required for biosynthesis of functional ribosomes.