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Mol Cell. 2004 Jan 16;13(1):55-65.

Coordination of transcription, RNA processing, and surveillance by P-TEFb kinase on heat shock genes.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Biotechnology Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb) is a kinase that phosphorylates the carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of RNA Polymerase II (Pol II). Here, we show that flavopiridol, a highly specific P-TEFb kinase inhibitor, dramatically reduces the global levels of Ser2--but not Ser5--phosphorylated CTD at actively transcribed loci on Drosophila polytene chromosomes under both normal and heat shocked conditions. Brief treatment of Drosophila cells with flavopiridol leads to a reduction in the accumulation of induced hsp70 and hsp26 RNAs. Surprisingly, the density of transcribing Pol II and Pol II progression through hsp70 in vivo are nearly normal in flavopiridol-treated cells. The major defect in expression is at the level of 3' end processing. A similar but more modest 3' processing defect was also observed for hsp26. We propose that P-TEFb phosphorylation of Pol II CTD coordinates transcription elongation with 3' end processing, and failure to do so leads to rapid RNA degradation.

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