RNA polymerase II read-through promotes expression of neighboring genes in SAL1-PAP-XRN retrograde signaling

Peter A. Crisp, Aaron B. Smith, Diep R. Ganguly, Kevin D. Murray, Steven R. Eichten, Anthony A. Millar, Barry J. Pogson

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7 Scopus citations


In plants, the molecular function(s) of the nucleus-localized 5′-3′ EXORIBONUCLEASES (XRNs) are unclear; however, their activity is reported to have a significant effect on gene expression and SAL1-mediated retrograde signaling. Using parallel analysis of RNA ends, we documented a dramatic increase in uncapped RNA substrates of the XRNs in both sal1 and xrn2xrn3 mutants. We found that a major consequence of reducing SAL1 or XRN activity was RNA Polymerase II 3′ read-through. This occurred at 72% of expressed genes, demonstrating a major genome-wide role for the XRN-torpedo model of transcription termination in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Read-through is speculated to have a negative effect on transcript abundance; however, we did not observe this. Rather, we identified a strong association between read-through and increased transcript abundance of tan-demly orientated downstream genes, strongly correlated with the proximity (less than 1,000 bp) and expression of the upstream gene. We observed read-through in the proximity of 903 genes up-regulated in the sal1-8 retrograde signaling mutant; thus, this phenomenon may account directly for up to 23% of genes up-regulated in sal1-8. Using APX2 and AT5G43770 as exemplars, we genetically uncoupled read-through loci from downstream genes to validate the principle of read-through-mediated mRNA regulation, providing one mechanism by which an ostensibly posttranscriptional exoribonuclease that targets uncapped RNAs could modulate gene expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1614-1630
Number of pages17
JournalPlant physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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