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Genes Dev. 1992 Nov;6(11):2201-13.

The block to transcriptional elongation within the human c-myc gene is determined in the promoter-proximal region.

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  • 1Division of Basic Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98104.


A conditional block to transcriptional elongation is an important mechanism for regulating c-myc gene expression. This elongation block within the first c-myc exon was defined originally in mammalian cells by nuclear run-on transcription analyses. Subsequent oocyte injection and in vitro transcription analyses suggested that sequences near the end of the first c-myc exon are sites of attenuation and/or premature termination. We report here that the mapping of single stranded DNA in vivo with potassium permanganate (KMnO4) and nuclear run-on transcription assays reveal that polymerase is paused near position +30 relative to the major c-myc transcription initiation site. Deletion of 350 bp, including the sites of 3'-end formation and intrinsic termination defined in oocyte injection and in vitro transcription assays does not affect-the pausing of polymerase in the promoter-proximal region. In addition, sequences upstream of +47 are sufficient to confer the promoter-proximal pausing of polymerases and to generate the polarity of transcription farther downstream. Thus, the promoter-proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II complexes accounts for the block to elongation within the c-myc gene in mammalian cells. We speculate that modification of polymerase complexes at the promoter-proximal pause site may determine whether polymerases can read through intrinsic sites of termination farther downstream.

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