Structural basis of Ty3 retrotransposon integration at RNA Polymerase III-transcribed genes
Retrotransposons are endogenous elements that have the ability to mobilise their DNA between different locations in the host genome. The Ty3 retrotransposon integrates with an exquisite specificity in a narrow window upstream of RNA Polymerase (Pol) III-transcribed genes, representing a paradigm for harmless targeted integration. Here we present the cryo-EM reconstruction at 4.0 Å of an active Ty3 strand transfer complex bound to TFIIIB transcription factor and a tRNA gene. The structure unravels the molecular mechanisms underlying Ty3 targeting specificity at Pol III-transcribed genes and sheds light into the architecture of retrotransposon machinery during integration. Ty3 intasome contacts a region of TBP, a subunit of TFIIIB, which is blocked by NC2 transcription regulator in RNA Pol II-transcribed genes. A newly-identified chromodomain on Ty3 integrase interacts with TFIIIB and the tRNA gene, defining with extreme precision the integration site position.