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EMBO J. Feb 1988; 7(2): 503–512.
PMCID: PMC454347

Upstream regulatory elements are necessary and sufficient for transcription of a U6 RNA gene by RNA polymerase III.


Whereas the genes coding for trimethyl guanosine-capped snRNAs are transcribed by RNA polymerase II, the U6 RNA genes are transcribed by RNA polymerase III. In this study, we have analyzed the cis-regulatory elements involved in the transcription of a mouse U6 snRNA gene in vitro and in frog oocytes. Transcriptional analysis of mutant U6 gene constructs showed that, unlike most known cases of polymerase III transcription, intragenic sequences except the initiation nucleotide are dispensable for efficient and accurate transcription of U6 gene in vitro. Transcription of 5' deletion mutants in vitro and in frog oocytes showed that the upstream region, within 79 bp from the initiation nucleotide, contains elements necessary for U6 gene transcription. Transcription studies were carried out in frog oocytes with U6 genes containing 5' distal sequence; these studies revealed that the distal element acts as an orientation-dependent enhancer when present upstream to the gene, while it is orientation-independent but distance-dependent enhancer when placed down-stream to the U6 gene. Analysis of 3' deletion mutants showed that the transcription termination of U6 RNA is dependent on a T cluster present on the 3' end of the gene, thus providing further support to other lines of evidence that U6 genes are transcribed by RNA polymerase III. These observations suggest the involvement of a composite of components of RNA polymerase II and III transcription machineries in the transcription of U6 genes by RNA polymerase III.

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Selected References

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