Author(s): Knuesel MT, Meyer KD, Bernecky C, Taatjes DJ
Abstract Share this page
Abstract The human CDK8 subcomplex (CDK8, cyclin C, Med12, and Med13) negatively regulates transcription in ways not completely defined; past studies suggested CDK8 kinase activity was required for its repressive function. Using a reconstituted transcription system together with recombinant or endogenous CDK8 subcomplexes, we demonstrate that, in fact, Med12 and Med13 are critical for subcomplex-dependent repression, whereas CDK8 kinase activity is not. A hallmark of activated transcription is efficient reinitiation from promoter-bound scaffold complexes that recruit a series of pol II enzymes to the gene. Notably, the CDK8 submodule strongly represses even reinitiation events, suggesting a means to fine tune transcript levels. Structural and biochemical studies confirm the CDK8 submodule binds the Mediator leg/tail domain via the Med13 subunit, and this submodule-Mediator association precludes pol II recruitment. Collectively, these results reveal the CDK8 subcomplex functions as a simple switch that controls the Mediator-pol II interaction to help regulate transcription initiation and reinitiation events. As Mediator is generally required for expression of protein-coding genes, this may reflect a common mechanism by which activated transcription is shut down in human cells.
This article was published in Genes Dev
and referenced in Journal of Cancer Science & Therapy