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J Biol Chem. 1999 Mar 19;274(12):8085-92.

Structure and function of the human transcription elongation factor DSIF.

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Faculty of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 4259 Nagatsuta, Yokohama 226-8501, Japan.


5,6-Dichloro-1-beta-D-ribofuranosylbenzimidazole (DRB) is a classic inhibitor of transcription elongation by RNA polymerase II (pol II). We have previously identified and purified a novel transcription elongation factor, termed DSIF (for DRB sensitivity-inducing factor), that makes transcription sensitive to DRB. DSIF is composed of 160- and 14-kDa subunits, which are homologs of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae transcription factors Spt5 and Spt4. DSIF may either repress or stimulate transcription in vitro, depending on conditions, but its physiological function remains elusive. Here we characterize the structure and function of DSIF p160. p160 is shown to be a ubiquitous nuclear protein that forms a stable complex with p14 and interacts directly with the pol II largest subunit. Mutation analysis of p160 is used to identify structural features essential for its in vitro activity and to map the domains required for its interaction with p14 and pol II. Finally, a p160 mutant that represses DSIF activity in a dominant-negative manner is identified and used to demonstrate that DSIF represses transcription from various promoters in vivo.

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