Actin is not only a major cytoskeletal component in all eukaryotic cells but also a nuclear protein that plays a role in gene transcription. We put together data from in vitro and in vivo experiments that begin to provide insights into the molecular mechanisms by which actin functions in transcription. Recent studies performed in vitro have suggested that actin, in direct contact with the transcription apparatus, is required in an early step of transcription that is common to all three eukaryotic RNA polymerases. In addition, there is evidence from in vivo studies that actin is involved in the transcription elongation of class II genes. In this case, actin is bound to a speci. c subset of premessenger RNA binding proteins, and the actin-messenger RNP complex may constitute a molecular platform for recruitment of histone-modifying enzymes. We discuss a general model for actin in RNA polymerase II transcription whereby actin works as a conformational switch in conjunction with speci. c adaptors to facilitate the remodeling of large macromolecular assemblies at the promoter and along the active gene.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology