The Ras/PKA signaling pathway may control RNA polymerase II elongation via the Spt4p/Spt5p complex in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Genetics. 2003 Nov;165(3):1059-70. doi: 10.1093/genetics/165.3.1059.


The Ras signaling pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae controls cell growth via the cAMP-dependent protein kinase, PKA. Recent work has indicated that these effects on growth are due, in part, to the regulation of activities associated with the C-terminal domain (CTD) of the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II. However, the precise target of these Ras effects has remained unknown. This study suggests that Ras/PKA activity regulates the elongation step of the RNA polymerase II transcription process. Several lines of evidence indicate that Spt5p in the Spt4p/Spt5p elongation factor is the likely target of this control. First, the growth of spt4 and spt5 mutants was found to be very sensitive to changes in Ras/PKA signaling activity. Second, mutants with elevated levels of Ras activity shared a number of specific phenotypes with spt5 mutants and vice versa. Finally, Spt5p was efficiently phosphorylated by PKA in vitro. Altogether, the data suggest that the Ras/PKA pathway might be directly targeting a component of the elongating polymerase complex and that this regulation is important for the normal control of yeast cell growth. These data point out the interesting possibility that signal transduction pathways might directly influence the elongation step of RNA polymerase II transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors / metabolism*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • SPT4 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcriptional Elongation Factors
  • SPT5 transcriptional elongation factor
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • ras Proteins