Regulation of RNA polymerase I by phosphorylation and production of anti-RNA polymerase I antibodies in rheumatic autoimmune diseases

Isozymes Curr Top Biol Med Res. 1983:7:263-75.


Relative to resting liver, Morris hepatomas with different growth rates (3924A, 5123D, 7800, and 7777) all had higher (two to eightfold) levels (activity/gm tissue) of RNA polymerase I. Only the most rapidly growing tumor (hepatoma 3924A) showed a substantial increase (fivefold) in RNA polymerase III activity. RNA polymerase II activity/gm tissue in the hepatomas was similar to that in resting liver. The elevation in the hepatoma RNA polymerase I activity resulted from both an increase in the number of transcriptionally active enzyme molecules and an increase in the specific activity of the enzyme as a result of phosphorylation. Phosphorylation of RNA polymerase I from Morris hepatoma 3924A could be catalyzed either by an endogenous protein kinase or by a highly purified preparation of NII protein kinase from the same tumor. Three out of eight polypeptides (Mr 120,000, 65,000, and 25,000) or RNA polymerase I were phosphorylated. Phosphorylation resulted in enhanced RNA synthesis at the level of chain elongation. Another nuclear protein kinase, NI, had no significant effect on RNA polymerase I. The activity and/or amount of the NII protein kinase was significantly reduced in resting liver, which correlated with decreased specific activity of the liver RNA polymerase I. Anti-RNA polymerase I antibodies were found in the sera of patients with rheumatic autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Sera from these patients were capable of specifically inhibiting RNA polymerase I activity in vitro. Antibodies were produced predominantly against three of the polypeptides--S3 (Mr 65,000), S4 (Mr 42,000), and S5 (Mr 25,000) of RNA polymerase I. The spectrum and proportion of the antibodies against these three subunits differ with each patient and with the type of the autoimmune disease. These observations indicate that (1) the NII kinase can regulate RNA polymerase I activity, (2) protein kinase NII is associated with the polymerase I enzyme complex, and (3) certain polypeptides of this enzyme complex may be the target antigens in rheumatic autoimmune disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / enzymology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / enzymology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / immunology
  • Liver Regeneration
  • Phosphorylation
  • RNA Polymerase I / immunology
  • RNA Polymerase I / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rheumatic Diseases / enzymology*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / immunology
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Antibodies
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • RNA Polymerase I