Epigenetic DNA Modification N6‑Methyladenine Causes Site-Specific RNA Polymerase II Transcriptional Pausing
journal contributionposted on 2017-09-21, 00:00 authored by Wei Wang, Liang Xu, Lulu Hu, Jenny Chong, Chuan He, Dong Wang
N6-Methyladenine (N6-mA or 6 mA) is an epigenetic DNA modification in eukaryotic genomes. In contrast to the well-established roles of 5-methylcytosine for epigenetic regulation of gene expression, the functional roles of N6-mA remain elusive. In particular, the impact of N6-mA modification of the DNA template on RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcription elongation is not known. In this work, using the Saccharomyces cerevisiae pol II transcriptional elongation system as a model, we investigated the molecular mechanism of pol II recognition and processing of N6-mA sites via both biochemical and structural approaches. We found that N6-mA causes site-specific pol II pausing/stalling. Structural analysis revealed that while N6-mA can reach the +1 template position, the stability of the N6-mA and UTP base pairing is compromised. Taken together, we reveal that the presence of the 6-methyl group on adenine reduces incorporation efficiency and promotes backtracking translocation. Our studies with yeast pol II provide molecular insights into understanding the impacts of N6-mA on pol II transcription dynamics in different organisms.