Published on Feb. 1, 2010 in Nucleic Acids Res volume 38.

PubMed ID: 19906723


The 7SK snRNP represents a major reservoir of activity where P-TEFb, a general transcription factor key for RNA polymerase II elongation, can be withdrawn to promote gene expression, cell growth and development. Within this complex, 7SK snRNA is a central scaffold that coordinates key protein-protein interactions and maintains P-TEFb in an inactive state. Although the stability of 7SK directly affects the amount of active P-TEFb in vivo, relatively little is known about how it is maintained and how the 7SK methylphosphate capping enzyme MePCE and LARP7, a La-related protein associated with the 3'-poly(U) of 7SK, contribute to this process. Here, we show that 7SK is capped by the LARP7-free MePCE and in probably a co-transcriptional manner prior to its sequestration into 7SK snRNP. However, upon interacting with LARP7 within 7SK snRNP, MePCE loses its capping activity, probably due to the occlusion of its catalytic center by LARP7. Despite its lack of capping activity in 7SK snRNP, MePCE displays a capping-independent function to promote the LARP7-7SK interaction, which in turn stabilizes 7SK and facilitates the assembly of a stable MePCE-LARP7-7SK subcomplex. Our data indicate that MePCE and LARP7 act cooperatively to stabilize 7SK and maintain the integrity of 7SK snRNP.

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