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Biopolymers. 2003 Apr;68(4):528-38.

Role of C-terminal domain phosphorylation in RNA polymerase II transcription through the nucleosome.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 540 E. Canfield Avenue, Rm. 5123, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.


End-initiated transcription of a 256 base-pair (bp) template containing a single uniquely positioned nucleosome by yeast and calf thymus nuclear RNA polymerases II (pol II) was analyzed in vitro. The nucleosome-specific pausing pattern is similar to the pattern observed in the case of transcription of the same nucleosome by yeast RNA polymerase III. However, the pausing pattern is clearly different from the patterns observed previously during transcription by promoter-initiated and assembled pol II. This suggests that end-initiated and promoter-initiated RNA polymerases differ in the way they progress through the nucleosome. The rates of transcription through the nucleosome by pol II are significantly lower than the rates observed in the case of SP6 polymerase and RNA polymerase III. Using calf thymus pol II, we have investigated the possibility that phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain (CTD) facilitates transcription through the nucleosome. The rates of transcription through the nucleosome by phosphorylated (IIO) and nonphosphorylated (IIA) forms of calf thymus pol II are very similar. This suggests that CTD phosphorylation is not sufficient to facilitate transcription through the nucleosome by end-initiated pol II.

Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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