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Vos, Seychelle M.; Pöllmann, David; Caizzi, Livia; Hofmann, Katharina B.; Rombaut, Pascaline; Zimniak, Tomasz; Herzog, Franz; Cramer, Patrick (2016): Architecture and RNA binding of the human negative elongation factor. In: eLife, Vol. 5, e14981
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Abstract

Transcription regulation in metazoans often involves promoter-proximal pausing of RNA polymerase (Pol) II, which requires the 4-subunit negative elongation factor (NELF). Here we discern the functional architecture of human NELF through X-ray crystallography, protein crosslinking, biochemical assays, and RNA crosslinking in cells. We identify a NELF core subcomplex formed by conserved regions in subunits NELF-A and NELF-C, and resolve its crystal structure. The NELF-AC subcomplex binds single-stranded nucleic acids in vitro, and NELF-C associates with RNA in vivo. A positively charged face of NELF-AC is involved in RNA binding, whereas the opposite face of the NELF-AC subcomplex binds NELF-B. NELF-B is predicted to form a HEAT repeat fold, also binds RNA in vivo, and anchors the subunit NELF-E, which is confirmed to bind RNA in vivo. These results reveal the three-dimensional architecture and three RNA-binding faces of NELF.