RNA polymerase (Pol) III is responsible for transcription of different noncoding genes in eukaryotic cells, whose RNA products have well-defined functions in translation and other biological processes for some, and functions that remain to be defined for others. For all of them, however, new functions are being described. For example, Pol III products have been reported to regulate certain proteins such as protein kinase R (PKR) by direct association, to constitute the source of very short RNAs with regulatory roles in gene expression, or to control microRNA levels by sequestration. Consistent with these many functions, deregulation of Pol III transcribed genes is associated with a large variety of human disorders. Here we review different human diseases that have been linked to defects in the Pol III transcription apparatus or to Pol III products imbalance and discuss the possible underlying mechanisms.
Keywords: Alu; BC200; RMRP; RNA polymerase III; cancer; disease; leukodystrophy; nc886; tRNA; transcription.