Evidence Supporting That RNA Polymerase II Catalyzes De Novo Transcription Using Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid Circular RNA Templates

Viruses. 2020 Mar 27;12(4):371. doi: 10.3390/v12040371.


Transcription is a fundamental process that mediates the interplay between genetic information and phenotype. Emerging evidence indicates that RNA polymerase II (Pol II) can catalyze transcription using both DNA and RNA templates. It is well established that Pol II initiates de novo transcription on DNA templates. However, it is unclear whether Pol II performs de novo transcription or relies on primers for initiation (primed transcription) on RNA templates. Using potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd) as a model, we presented evidence showing that circular PSTVd templates are critical for the synthesis of longer-than-unit-length (-)-strand products, which supports the de novo transcription based on the asymmetric rolling circle model of PSTVd replication. We further showed that the crucial factor for primed transcription, transcription factor IIS (TFIIS), is dispensable for PSTVd replication in cells. Together, our data support the de novo transcription on PSTVd RNA templates catalyzed by Pol II. This result has significant implications in understanding the mechanism and machinery underlying Pol II-catalyzed transcription using other RNA templates.

Keywords: RNA Polymerase II; RNA-templated transcription; de novo transcription; potato spindle tuber viroid; primed transcription.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Cell-Free System
  • RNA Polymerase II / metabolism*
  • RNA Viruses / genetics*
  • RNA, Circular*
  • RNA, Viral*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Solanum tuberosum / virology
  • Templates, Genetic*
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Viroids / genetics*
  • Virus Replication


  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • RNA Polymerase II