Structural characterization of human general transcription factor TFIIF in solution.
Human general transcription factor IIF (TFIIF), a component of the transcription pre-initiation complex (PIC) associated with RNA polymerase II (Pol II), was characterized by size-exclusion chromatography (SEC), electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS), and chemical cross-linking. Recombinant TFIIF, composed of an equimolar ratio of alpha and beta subunits, was bacterially expressed, purified to homogeneity, and found to have a transcription activity similar to a natural one in the human in vitro transcription system. SEC of purified TFIIF, as previously reported, suggested that this protein has a size >200 kDa. In contrast, ESI-MS of the purified sample gave a molecular size of 87 kDa, indicating that TFIIF is an alphabeta heterodimer, which was confirmed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MS of the cross-linked TFIIF components. Recent electron microscopy (EM) and photo-cross-linking studies showed that the yeast TFIIF homolog containing Tfg1 and Tfg2, corresponding to the human alpha and beta subunits, exists as a heterodimer in the PIC, so the human TFIIF is also likely to exist as a heterodimer even in the PIC. In the yeast PIC, EM and photo-cross-linking studies showed different results for the mutual location of TFIIE and TFIIF along DNA. We have examined the direct interaction between human TFIIF and TFIIE by ESI-MS, SEC, and chemical cross-linking; however, no direct interaction was observed, at least in solution. This is consistent with the previous photo-cross-linking observation that TFIIF and TFIIE flank DNA separately on both sides of the Pol II central cleft in the yeast PIC.