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Plant J. 2005 Jul;43(1):97-106.

Plant 7SL RNA genes belong to type 4 of RNA polymerase III- dependent genes that are composed of mixed promoters.

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Graduate School of Natural Sciences, Nagoya City University, Nagoya 467-8501, Japan.


The genes transcribed by RNA polymerase III (pol III) display a great diversity in terms of promoter structure and are placed in four groups accordingly. Type 3 subset of pol III genes has promoter elements which reside entirely upstream of the coding region of the gene whereas type 4 consists of genes with mixed promoters that enclose intra- and extragenic regulatory sequences. Plant 7SL RNA genes have been previously classified as type 3 of pol III genes requiring an upstream sequence element and a canonical TATA box for transcriptional activity in transfected plant protoplasts. We have identified two novel functional control regions within the coding region of an Arabidopsis 7SL RNA gene (At7SL-1) that resemble tRNA gene-specific A and B boxes with respect to sequence and position. Single and multiple nucleotide substitutions in either of these regions resulted in a pronounced reduction of transcription activity in tobacco nuclear extract that was not caused by a decreased stability as shown by decay kinetics of wild type and mutant RNA transcripts. These findings suggest that plant 7SL RNA genes should be actually placed in type 4 of pol III-transcribed genes. As a consequence of substantially different upstream promoters utilized by plant and human pol III, in vitro transcription of 7SL RNA genes in heterologous systems is severely impaired. A chimeric human 7SL RNA gene that contains the 5' flanking region up to position -300 of At7SL-1 is yet transcribed with a reduced efficiency in tobacco extract when compared with the plant wild-type gene, supporting the notion that internal regulatory elements contribute to full activity.

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