The human homologue of the RNA polymerase II-associated factor 1 (hPaf1), localized on the 19q13 amplicon, is associated with tumorigenesis.
The 19q13 amplicon in pancreatic cancer cells contains a novel pancreatic differentiation 2 (PD2) gene (accession number AJ401156), which was identified by differential screening analysis. PD2 is the human homologue of the RNA polymerase II-associated factor 1 (hPaf1). In yeast, Paf1 is part of the transcription machinery, acting as a docking protein in between the complexes Rad6-Bre1, COMPASS-Dot1p, and the phosphorylated carboxyl terminal domain of the RNA polymerase II. As such, Paf1 is directly involved in transcription elongation via histone H2B ubiquitination and histone H3 methylation. The PD2 sequence is highly conserved from Drosophila to humans with up to 98% identity between rodent and human, suggesting the functional importance of PD2/hPaf1 to maintain cellular homeostasis. PD2 is a modular protein composed of RNA recognition motif, DEAD-boxes, an aspartic/serine (DS)-domain, a regulator of the chromosome condensation domain and myc-type helix-loop-helix domains. Our results further showed that PD2 is a nuclear 80 kDa protein, which interacts with RNA polymerase II. In addition, we have demonstrated that the overexpression of PD2 in the NIH 3T3 cells result in enhanced growth rates in vitro and tumor formation in vivo. Altogether, this paper presents strong evidence that the overexpression of PD2/hPaf1 is involved in cancer development.