Mediator is a conserved multi-subunit complex known to promote the transcription of protein-coding genes by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) in eukaryotes. It has been increasingly realized that Pol II transcribes a large number of intergenic loci to generate noncoding RNAs, but the role of Mediator in Pol II-mediated noncoding RNA production has been largely unexplored. The role of Mediator in noncoding RNA production in plants is particularly intriguing given that plants have evolved from Pol II two additional polymerases, Pol IV and Pol V, to specialize in noncoding RNA production and transcriptional gene silencing at heterochromatic loci. Here, we show that Mediator is required for microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis by recruiting Pol II to promoters of miRNA genes. We also show that several well-characterized heterochromatic loci are de-repressed in Mediator mutants and that Mediator promotes Pol II-mediated production of long noncoding scaffold RNAs, which serve to recruit Pol V to these loci. This study expands the function of Mediator to include Pol II-mediated intergenic transcription and implicates a role of Mediator in genome stability.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)