Architecture of TFIIIC and its role in RNA polymerase III pre-initiation complex assembly

Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 10;6:7387. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8387.


In eukaryotes, RNA Polymerase III (Pol III) is specifically responsible for transcribing genes encoding tRNAs and other short non-coding RNAs. The recruitment of Pol III to tRNA-encoding genes requires the transcription factors (TF) IIIB and IIIC. TFIIIC has been described as a conserved, multi-subunit protein complex composed of two subcomplexes, called τA and τB. How these two subcomplexes are linked and how their interaction affects the formation of the Pol III pre-initiation complex (PIC) is poorly understood. Here we use chemical crosslinking mass spectrometry and determine the molecular architecture of TFIIIC. We further report the crystal structure of the essential TPR array from τA subunit τ131 and characterize its interaction with a central region of τB subunit τ138. The identified τ131-τ138 interacting region is essential in vivo and overlaps with TFIIIB-binding sites, revealing a crucial interaction platform for the regulation of tRNA transcription initiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • RNA Polymerase III / chemistry
  • RNA Polymerase III / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Transcription Factors, TFIII / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors, TFIII / metabolism*


  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Transcription Factors, TFIII
  • transcription factor TFIIIC
  • RNA Polymerase III

Associated data

  • PDB/5AEM
  • PDB/5AIM
  • PDB/5AIO