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Mol Cell Biol. 1997 Jun; 17(6): 2973–2984.
PMCID: PMC232149

Accurate positioning of RNA polymerase II on a natural TATA-less promoter is independent of TATA-binding-protein-associated factors and initiator-binding proteins.


Two promoter elements, the TATA element and initiator (Inr), are capable of directing specific transcription initiation of protein-encoding genes by RNA polymerase II (RNAPII). Although binding to the TATA element by the TATA-binding protein (TBP) has been shown to be the initial recognition step in transcription complex formation in vitro, the mechanism through which the basal machinery assembles into a functional complex on TATA-less promoters is controversial. Evidence supporting numerous models of Inr-mediated transcription complex formation exists, including the nucleation of a complex by Inr-binding proteins, a component of the TFIID complex, or a specific upstream activator common to many TATA-less promoters, Sp1. Using various techniques, we have undertaken a systematic analysis of the natural TATA-less human DNA polymerase beta (beta-pol) gene promoter. Although the beta-pol promoter contains upstream Sp1 elements and a functional Inr that binds YY1, neither of these factors is essential for Inr-mediated transcription complex formation. A complex containing TBP, TFIIB, TFIIF, and RNAPII (DBPolF complex) is capable of forming on the promoter in an Inr-dependent manner. A single point mutation within the Inr that affects DBPolF complex formation diminishes beta-pol transcriptional activity.

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