Amanda S Coutts, Shonagh Munro, and Nicholas B La Thangue
A prerequisite for protein synthesis is the transcription of ribosomal rRNA genes by RNA polymerase I (Pol I), which controls ribosome biogenesis. UBF (upstream binding factor) is one of the main Pol I transcription factors located in the nucleolus that activates rRNA gene transcription. E2F7 is an atypical E2F family member that acts as a transcriptional repressor of E2F target genes, and thereby contributes to cell cycle arrest. Here, we describe an unexpected role for E2F7 in regulating rRNA gene transcription. We have found that E2F7 localises to the perinucleolar region, and further that E2F7 is able to exert repressive effects on Pol I transcription. At the mechanistic level, this is achieved in part by E2F7 hindering UBF recruitment to the rRNA gene promoter region, and thereby reducing rRNA gene transcription, which in turn compromises global protein synthesis. Our results expand the target gene repertoire influenced by E2F7 to include Pol I-regulated genes, and more generally suggest a mechanism mediated by effects on Pol I transcription where E2F7 links cell cycle arrest with protein synthesis.