The cryo-electron microscopy structure of human transcription factor IIH

Nature. 2017 Sep 21;549(7672):414-417. doi: 10.1038/nature23903. Epub 2017 Sep 13.


Human transcription factor IIH (TFIIH) is part of the general transcriptional machinery required by RNA polymerase II for the initiation of eukaryotic gene transcription. Composed of ten subunits that add up to a molecular mass of about 500 kDa, TFIIH is also essential for nucleotide excision repair. The seven-subunit TFIIH core complex formed by XPB, XPD, p62, p52, p44, p34, and p8 is competent for DNA repair, while the CDK-activating kinase subcomplex, which includes the kinase activity of CDK7 as well as the cyclin H and MAT1 subunits, is additionally required for transcription initiation. Mutations in the TFIIH subunits XPB, XPD, and p8 lead to severe premature ageing and cancer propensity in the genetic diseases xeroderma pigmentosum, Cockayne syndrome, and trichothiodystrophy, highlighting the importance of TFIIH for cellular physiology. Here we present the cryo-electron microscopy structure of human TFIIH at 4.4 Å resolution. The structure reveals the molecular architecture of the TFIIH core complex, the detailed structures of its constituent XPB and XPD ATPases, and how the core and kinase subcomplexes of TFIIH are connected. Additionally, our structure provides insight into the conformational dynamics of TFIIH and the regulation of its activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / chemistry
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / ultrastructure
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Cryoelectron Microscopy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Mutation
  • Protein Subunits / chemistry
  • Protein Subunits / genetics
  • Protein Subunits / metabolism
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism
  • RNA Polymerase II / ultrastructure
  • Transcription Factor TFIIH / chemistry*
  • Transcription Factor TFIIH / genetics
  • Transcription Factor TFIIH / metabolism
  • Transcription Factor TFIIH / ultrastructure*
  • Transcription Initiation, Genetic


  • Protein Subunits
  • Transcription Factor TFIIH
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases