Chen Y, Vos SM, Dienemann C, Ninov M, Urlaub H, Cramer P
Molecular Cell (2021). In press.
The super elongation complex (SEC) contains the positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) and the subcomplex ELL2-EAF1, which stimulates RNA polymerase II (RNA Pol II) elongation. Here, we report the cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of ELL2-EAF1 bound to a RNA Pol II elongation complex at 2.8 Å resolution. The ELL2-EAF1 dimerization module directly binds the RNA Pol II lobe domain, explaining how SEC delivers P-TEFb to RNA Pol II. The same site on the lobe also binds the initiation factor TFIIF, consistent with SEC binding only after the transition from transcription initiation to elongation. Structure-guided functional analysis shows that the stimulation of RNA elongation requires the dimerization module and the ELL2 linker that tethers the module to the RNA Pol II protrusion. Our results show that SEC stimulates elongation allosterically and indicate that this stimulation involves stabilization of a closed conformation of the RNA Pol II active center cleft.