GTP-dependent binding and nuclear transport of RNA polymerase II by Npa3 protein


We identified XAB1 in a proteomic screen for factors that interact with human RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). Because XAB1 has a conserved Saccharomyces cerevisiae homologue called Npa3, yeast genetics and biochemical analysis were used to dissect the significance of the interaction. Degron-dependent Npa3 depletion resulted in genome-wide transcription decreases, correlating with a loss of RNAPII from genes as measured by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Surprisingly, however, transcription in vitro was unaffected by Npa3, suggesting that it affects a process that is not required for transcription in yeast extracts. Indeed, Npa3 depletion in vivo affects nuclear localization of RNAPII; the polymerase accumulates in the cytoplasm. Npa3 is a member of the GPN-LOOP family of GTPases. Npa3 mutants that either cannot bind GTP or that bind but cannot hydrolyze it are inviable and unable to support nuclear transport of RNAPII. Surprisingly, we were unable to detect interactions between Npa3 and proteins in the classical importin α/β pathway for nuclear import. Interestingly, Npa3-RNAPII binding is significantly increased by the addition of GTP or its slowly hydrolyzable analogue guanosine 5'-3-O-(thio)triphosphate (GTPγS). Moreover, the Npa3 mutant that binds GTP, but cannot hydrolyze it, binds RNAPII even in the absence of added GTP, whereas the mutant that cannot bind GTP is unable to bind the polymerase. Together, our data suggest that Npa3 defines an unconventional pathway for nuclear import of RNAPII, which involves GTP-dependent binding of Npa3 to the polymerase.

Journal details

Volume 286
Issue number 41
Pages 35553-35561
Publication date