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Genes Dev. 1992 Feb;6(2):284-95.

DNA sequence requirements for generating paused polymerase at the start of hsp70.

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  • 1Section of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


RNA polymerase II is transcriptionally engaged but paused approximately 25 nucleotides from the start site of the hsp70 gene of Drosophila melanogaster in uninduced (non-heat-shocked) flies. Here, we identify regions of the hsp70 promoter that are required for formation of this paused polymerase. Various hsp70 promoter sequences are substituted for promoter sequences of a yolk protein gene, yp1, which, in males, is normally not expressed and has no paused polymerase. Run-on assays with nuclei of male transgenic flies are used to measure the level of paused polymerase on the hybrid genes. Sequences that reside upstream of the hsp70 TATA element, when fused upstream of the yp1 TATA element, specify the formation of a paused polymerase on the 5' end of this hybrid gene. Within this region are multiple copies of the GAGA element, which is known to bind a constitutively expressed factor. This element appears to play a role in generating the pause. Also, in the absence of much of this upstream region, hsp70 sequences in the vicinity of the transcriptional start and pause site participate in specifying the pause. Deletions of the pause site reduce the level of paused polymerase but do not lead to constitutive transcription. However, a connection between transcription and pausing is seen. The level of paused polymerase on the various hybrid hsp70-yp1 promoters correlates with the promoter's potential to direct heat-induced transcription.

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