Riluzole partially restores RNA polymerase III complex assembly in cells expressing the leukodystrophy-causative variant POLR3B R103H

Mol Brain. 2022 Nov 30;15(1):98. doi: 10.1186/s13041-022-00974-z.


The mechanism of assembly of RNA polymerase III (Pol III), the 17-subunit enzyme that synthesizes tRNAs, 5 S rRNA, and other small-nuclear (sn) RNAs in eukaryotes, is not clearly understood. The recent discovery of the HSP90 co-chaperone PAQosome (Particle for Arrangement of Quaternary structure) revealed a function for this machinery in the biogenesis of nuclear RNA polymerases. However, the connection between Pol III subunits and the PAQosome during the assembly process remains unexplored. Here, we report the development of a mass spectrometry-based assay that allows the characterization of Pol III assembly. This assay was used to dissect the stages of Pol III assembly, to start defining the function of the PAQosome in this process, to dissect the assembly defects driven by the leukodystrophy-causative R103H substitution in POLR3B, and to discover that riluzole, an FDA-approved drug for alleviation of ALS symptoms, partly corrects these assembly defects. Together, these results shed new light on the mechanism and regulation of human nuclear Pol III biogenesis.

Keywords: 4H leukodystrophy; Drug repurposing; Mass spectrometry; PAQosome; POLR3-related leukodystrophy; Protein complex assembly; RNA polymerase III; Riluzole.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • Humans
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • RNA Polymerase III* / genetics
  • Riluzole


  • RNA Polymerase III
  • Riluzole
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • POLR3B protein, human

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