Co-transcriptional RNA cleavage by Drosha homolog Pac1 triggers transcription termination in fission yeast

Nucleic Acids Res. 2021 Sep 7;49(15):8610-8624. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkab654.


Transcription termination of protein-coding genes in eukaryotic cells usually relies on a tight coordination between the cleavage and polyadenylation of the pre-mRNA, and 5'-3' degradation of the downstream nascent transcript. Here we investigated the contribution of the essential fission yeast endonuclease Pac1, a homolog of human Drosha that cleaves hairpin RNA structures, in triggering polyadenylation-independent transcription termination. Using ChIP-sequencing in Pac1-deficient cells, we found that Pac1 triggers transcription termination at snRNA and snoRNA genes as well as at specific protein-coding genes. Notably, we found that Pac1-dependent premature termination occurred at two genes encoding conserved transmembrane transporters whose expression were strongly repressed by Pac1. Analysis by genome editing indicated that a stem-loop structure in the nascent transcript directs Pac1-mediated cleavage and that the regions upstream and downstream of the Pac1 cleavage site in the targeted mRNAs were stabilized by mutation of nuclear 3'-5' and 5'-3' exonucleases, respectively. Our findings unveil a premature transcription termination pathway that uncouples co-transcriptional RNA cleavage from polyadenylation, triggering rapid nuclear RNA degradation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Endoribonucleases / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Polyadenylation / genetics
  • RNA Cleavage / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar / genetics*
  • Ribonuclease III / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics*
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Small Nucleolar
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • RNA Polymerase II
  • Endoribonucleases
  • pac1 protein, S pombe
  • DROSHA protein, human
  • Ribonuclease III