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Eukaryot Cell. 2004 Oct;3(5):1233-40.

RNA polymerase II localizes in Tetrahymena thermophila meiotic micronuclei when micronuclear transcription associated with genome rearrangement occurs.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Rochester, 425 Hutchison Hall, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


The germ line micronucleus in Tetrahymena thermophila is transcriptionally silent in vegetatively growing cells. However, micronuclear transcription has been observed in the early ("crescent") stages of the sexual process, conjugation. This transcription is proposed to play a central role in identifying sites for subsequent genome rearrangements that accompany development of the somatic macronucleus from the micronucleus. RPB3 (cnjC), a gene encoding a protein homologous to the third largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (RNAP II), was previously reported to be expressed specifically during conjugation, suggesting a role in micronucleus-specific transcription. Rpb3p localized in the micronucleus only during the meiotic prophase, when micronuclear transcription occurs, and its intranuclear distribution is strikingly similar to that for previously described sites of micronuclear RNA synthesis. By contrast, Rpc5p, the homologous subunit shared by RNAPs I and III, was not detectable in the micronucleus at any stage of the life cycle. However, Rpb3p is not specific to the transcribing micronucleus. Like Rpc5p, it also localizes to macronuclei in all stages of the life cycle. Rpb3p is encoded by a unique, essential gene in Tetrahymena. Thus, RNAP II is associated with both somatic transcription and crescent transcription and probably has an important role in genome rearrangement.

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