Chan AY, Vreede FT, Smith M, Engelhardt OG, Fodor E
The influenza virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase interacts with the serine-5 phosphorylated carboxy-terminal domain (CTD) of the large subunit of RNA polymerase II (Pol II). It was proposed that this interaction allows the viral RNA polymerase to gain access to host mRNA-derived capped RNA fragments required as primers for the initiation of viral mRNA synthesis. Here, we show, using a chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) analysis, that similar amounts of Pol II associate with Pol II promoter DNAs in influenza virus-infected and mock-infected cells. However, there is a statistically significant reduction in Pol II densities in the coding region of Pol II genes in infected cells. Thus, influenza virus specifically interferes with Pol II elongation, but not Pol II initiation. We propose that influenza virus RNA polymerase, by binding to the CTD of initiating Pol II and subsequent cleavage of the capped 5' end of the nascent transcript, triggers premature Pol II termination.