By: Anna Vintermist

Title:Chromatin remodelling of ribosomal genes - be bewitched by B-WICH

 

Abstract

Transcription of the ribosomal genes accounts for the majority of transcription in the cell due to the constant high demand for ribosomes. The number of proteins synthesized correlates with an effective ribosomal biogenesis, which is regulated
by cell growth and proliferation. In the work presented in this thesis, we have investigated the ribosomal RNA genes 45S and 5S rRNA, which are transcribed by RNA Pol I and RNA Pol III, respectively. The focus of this work is the chromatin remodelling complex B-WICH, which is composed of WSTF, the ATPase SNF2h and NM1. We have studied in particular its role in ribosomal gene transcription. We showed in Study I that B-WICH is required to set the stage at rRNA gene promoters by remodelling the chromatin into an open, transcriptionally active configuration. This results in the binding of histone acetyl transferases to the genes and subsequent histone acetylation,
which is needed for ribosomal gene activation. Study II investigated the role of B-WICH in transcription mediated by RNA polymerase III. We showed that B-WICH is essential to create an accessible chromatin atmosphere at 5S rRNA genes, which is compatible with the results obtained in Study 1. In this case, however, B-WICH operates as a licensing factor for c-Myc and the Myc/Max/Mxd network. Study III confirmed the importance and the function of the B-WICH complex as an activator of ribosomal genes. We demonstrated that B-WICH is important for the remodelling of the rDNA chromatin
into an active, competent state in response to extracellular stimuli, and that the association of the B-WICH complex to the rRNA gene promoter is regulated by proliferative and metabolic changes in cells. The work presented in this thesis has confirmed that the B-WICH complex is an important regulator and activator of Pol I
and Pol III transcription. We conclude that B-WICH is essential for remodelling the rDNA chromatin into a transcriptionally active state, as required for efficient ribosomal gene transcription.