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Nucleic Acids Res. 1987 Sep 25; 15(18): 7357–7368.
PMCID: PMC306253

Transcription of the intergenic regions of the tubulin gene cluster of Trypanosoma brucei: evidence for a polycistronic transcription unit in a eukaryote.


The tubulin genes of T. brucei are clustered in a tightly packed array of alternating alpha- and beta-genes. The steady state mRNA contains one abundant mRNA species each for alpha- and beta-tubulin, both carrying the identical 35 nt mini-exon sequence at their 5'-ends. We have used in vitro run-on transcription assays to investigate the mechanism of tubulin gene transcription in T. brucei. Our results show that the regions between the individual tubulin genes are transcribed at the same rate as are the genes themselves. On the other hand, transcripts containing the intergenic regions could not be detected by Northern analysis or in vivo labelling experiments. We conclude that putative transcripts from the intergenic regions have a half-life of less than one minute. These results suggest that the tubulin gene cluster is transcribed as a single contiguous transcription unit yielding a primary transcript which is rapidly processed into individual mRNAs by the polyadenylation and mini-exon trans splicing machineries.

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