Date of Graduation
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Eric J. Wagner, Ph.D.
Ambro van Hoof, Ph.D.
Michael R.Blackburn, Ph.D.
Michelle C.Barton, Ph.D.
Xiaobing Shi, Ph.D.
Uridine-rich small nuclear RNAs (U snRNAs) play essential roles in eukaryotic gene expression by facilitating the removal of introns from mRNA precursors and the processing of the replication-dependent histone pre-mRNAs. Formation of the 3’ end of these snRNAs is carried out by a poorly characterized, twelve-membered protein complex named Integrator Complex.
In the effort to understand Integrator Complex function in the formation of the snRNA 3’ end, we performed a functional RNAi screen in Drosophila S2 cells to identify protein factors required for snRNA 3’ end formation. This screen was conducted by using a fluorescence-based reporter that elicits GFP expression in response to a deficiency in snRNA processing. Besides scoring the known Integrator subunits, we identified Asunder and CG4785 as additional core members of the Integrator Complex. Additionally, we also found a conserved requirement for Cyclin C and Cdk8 in both fly and human snRNA 3’ end processing. We have further demonstrated that the kinase activity of Cdk8 is critical for snRNA 3’ end processing and is likely to function independent of its well-documented function within the Mediator Cdk8 module. Taken together, this work functionally defines the Drosophila Integrator Complex and demonstrates a novel function for Cyclin C/Cdk8 in snRNA 3’ end formation.
This thesis work has also characterized an important functional interaction mediated by a microdomain within Integrator subunit 12 (IntS12) and IntS1 that is required for the activity of the Integrator Complex in processing the snRNA 3’ end. Through the development of a reporter-based functional RNAi-rescue assay in Drosophila S2 cells, we analyzed domains within IntS12 required for snRNA 3’ end formation. This analysis unexpectedly revealed that an N-terminal 30 amino acid region and not the highly conserved central PHD finger domain, is required for snRNA 3’ end cleavage. The IntS12 microdomain (1-45) functions autonomously, and is sufficient to interact and stabilize the putative scaffold protein IntS1.
Our findings provide more details of the Integrator Complex for understanding the molecular mechanism of snRNA 3’ end processing. Moreover, these results lay the foundation for future studies of the complex through the identification of a novel functional domain within one subunit and the identification of additional subunits.
Integrator Complex, snRNA, 3' end formation, Genome-wide RNAi screen, S2 cell, snRNA-GFP reporter