Individual letters of the RNA polymerase II CTD code govern distinct gene expression programs in fission yeast

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Mar 18;111(11):4185-90. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321842111. Epub 2014 Mar 3.


The primary structure and phosphorylation pattern of the tandem Y(1)S(2)P(3)T(4)S(5)P(6)S(7) repeats of the RNA polymerase II carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) comprise an informational code that coordinates transcription, chromatin modification, and RNA processing. To gauge the contributions of individual CTD coding "letters" to gene expression, we analyzed the poly(A)(+) transcriptomes of fission yeast mutants that lack each of the four inessential CTD phosphoacceptors: Tyr1, Ser2, Thr4, and Ser7. There was a hierarchy of CTD mutational effects with respect to the number of dysregulated protein-coding RNAs, with S2A (n = 227) >> Y1F (n = 71) > S7A (n = 58) >> T4A (n = 7). The majority of the protein-coding RNAs affected in Y1F cells were coordinately affected by S2A, suggesting that Tyr1-Ser2 constitutes a two-letter code "word." Y1F and S2A elicited increased expression of genes encoding proteins involved in iron uptake (Frp1, Fip1, Fio1, Str3, Str1, Sib1), without affecting the expression of the genes that repress the iron regulon, implying that Tyr1-Ser2 transduces a repressive signal. Y1F and S2A cells had increased levels of ferric reductase activity and were hypersensitive to phleomycin, indicative of elevated intracellular iron. The T4A and S7A mutations had opposing effects on the phosphate response pathway. T4A reduced the expression of two genes encoding proteins involved in phosphate acquisition (the Pho1 acid phosphatase and the phosphate transporter SPBC8E4.01c), without affecting the expression of known genes that regulate the phosphate response pathway, whereas S7A increased pho1(+) expression. These results highlight specific cellular gene expression programs that are responsive to distinct CTD cues.

Keywords: iron homeostasis; phosphate homeostasis; transcription profiling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / genetics*
  • Gene Library
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Oligopeptides / genetics*
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / physiology
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Tandem Repeat Sequences / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • Oligopeptides
  • Iron
  • RNA Polymerase II

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE52370