Eukaryotic RNA polymerases are large complexes, 12 subunits of which are structurally or functionally homologous across the three polymerase classes. Each class has a set of specific subunits, likely targets of their cognate transcription factors. We have identified and characterized a human RNA polymerase I (Poll I)-specific subunit, previously identified as ASE-1 (antisense of ERCC1) and as CD3 epsilon-associated signal transducer (CAST), and here termed CAST or human Pol I-associated factor of 49 kDa (hPAF49), after mouse orthologue PAF49. We provide evidence for growth-regulated Tyr phosphorylation of CAST/hPAF49, specifically in initiation-competent Pol I[3 complexes in HeLa cells, at a conserved residue also known to be important for signaling during T-cell activation. CAST/hPAF49 can interact with activator upstream binding factor (UBF) and, weakly, with selectivity factor 1 (SL1) at the rDNA (ribosomal DNA repeat sequence encoding the 18S, 5.8S, and 28S rRNA genes) promoter. CAST/hPAF49-specific antibodies and excess CAST/hPAF49 protein, which have no effect on basal Pol I transcription, inhibit UBF-activated transcription following functional SLl-Pol I-rDNA complex assembly and disrupt the interaction of UBF with CAST/hPAF49, suggesting that interaction of this Pol I-specific subunit with UBF is crucial for activation. Drawing on parallels between mammalian and Saccharomyces cerevisiae Pol I transcription machineries, we advance one model for CAST/hPAF49 function in which the network of interactions of Pol I-specific subunits with UBF facilitates conformational changes of the polymerase, leading to stabilization of the Poll I-template complex and, thereby, activation of transcription.