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Identification of an ortholog of the eukaryotic RNA polymerase III subunit RPC34 in Crenarchaeota and Thaumarchaeota suggests specialization of RNA polymerases for coding and non-coding RNAs in Archaea

Fabian Blombach1*, Kira S Makarova2, Jeannette Marrero3, Bettina Siebers3, Eugene V Koonin2 and John van der Oost1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

2 National Center for Biotechnology Information, NLM, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA

3 University Duisburg-Essen, Faculty of Chemistry, Biofilm Centre, Molecular Enzyme Technology and Biochemistry, Lotharstrasse, Duisburg, Germany

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Biology Direct 2009, 4:39  doi:10.1186/1745-6150-4-39

Published: 14 October 2009


One of the hallmarks of eukaryotic information processing is the co-existence of 3 distinct, multi-subunit RNA polymerase complexes that are dedicated to the transcription of specific classes of coding or non-coding RNAs. Archaea encode only one RNA polymerase that resembles the eukaryotic RNA polymerase II with respect to the subunit composition. Here we identify archaeal orthologs of the eukaryotic RNA polymerase III subunit RPC34. Genome context analysis supports a function of this archaeal protein in the transcription of non-coding RNAs. These findings suggest that functional separation of RNA polymerases for protein-coding genes and non-coding RNAs might predate the origin of the Eukaryotes.

Reviewers: This article was reviewed by Andrei Osterman and Patrick Forterre (nominated by Purificación López-García)