Multisubunit RNA polymerases IV and V: purveyors of non-coding RNA for plant gene silencing

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Jul 22;12(8):483-92. doi: 10.1038/nrm3152.


In all eukaryotes, nuclear DNA-dependent RNA polymerases I, II and III synthesize the myriad RNAs that are essential for life. Remarkably, plants have evolved two additional multisubunit RNA polymerases, RNA polymerases IV and V, which orchestrate non-coding RNA-mediated gene silencing processes affecting development, transposon taming, antiviral defence and allelic crosstalk. Biochemical details concerning the templates and products of RNA polymerases IV and V are lacking. However, their subunit compositions reveal that they evolved as specialized forms of RNA polymerase II, which provides the unique opportunity to study the functional diversification of a eukaryotic RNA polymerase family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / chemistry
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / chemistry
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / genetics*
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Silencing
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Subunits
  • RNA, Plant / genetics*
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism*
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*
  • Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Protein Subunits
  • RNA, Plant
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • RNA polymerase IV, Arabidopsis
  • RNA polymerase V, Arabidopsis
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases