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Nucleic Acids Res. 1995 Jun 11;23(11):1970-6.

An upstream U-snRNA gene-like promoter is required for transcription of the Arabidopsis thaliana 7SL RNA gene.

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  • 1Friedrich Miescher-Institut, Basel, Switzerland.


The genes transcribed by RNA polymerase (pol) III can be placed into four distinct groups based on the nature and position of their promoter elements. In the higher eukaryotes equivalent genes usually belong to the same sub-type of pol III promoters and there are few examples of genes which have changed promoter type during evolution. In this work we demonstrate that the promoter of the Arabidopsis thaliana 7SL RNA gene is located upstream of the coding region and is identical to the promoters of pol III-specific plant U-small nuclear RNA (U-snRNA) genes. Sequence analysis of two different 7SL genes from A. thaliana revealed that both genes contain two sequence elements in their 5' flanking regions identical in sequence and position to the highly conserved USE and TATA elements of the pol III-transcribed plant U-snRNA genes. Mutational analysis of these elements in the At7SL-2 gene indicates that the USE and TATA elements are both necessary and account for > or = 90% of the transcriptional activity of this gene in transfected plant protoplasts. Within the coding region of both genes there is a sequence element which is a 10/11 nt match to the consensus B-box element of tRNA genes, however, this element is not important for gene activity. These findings distinguish the plant genes from the human 7SL gene, which has both internal and upstream promoter elements and its upstream elements are different from those found in the human U-snRNA genes.

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