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Biochemistry. 1990 Jan 9;29(1):269-78.

Analysis of the signals for transcription termination by purified RNA polymerase II.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of California, Berkeley 94720.


Eukaryotic RNA polymerase II recognizes certain DNA sequences as effective signals for transcription termination in vitro. Previously, we have shown that such termination occurs within T-rich sequences; however, not all T runs stop the enzyme nor is the efficiency of termination correlated with the length of the T run. Here we have investigated the sequence elements that signal transcription termination by purified RNA polymerase II. We have examined terminators located within introns of the human histone H3.3 gene and the human c-myc gene. Deletion analysis of the H3.3 termination region indicates that the sequences between -6 and +24 relative to the strongest termination site are sufficient to cause transcription termination. The minimal termination signal at this site has been localized to the sequence TTTTTTTC-CCTTTTTT in the nontranscribed strand. A similar but nonidentical sequence has been defined for the c-myc termination site. Since RNA polymerase II terminates transcription only within the first run of T residues in these sequences, at least part of the termination signal lies in downstream nontranscribed DNA sequences. Restriction fragment mobility analysis indicates that the H3.3 termination region contains a bend in the DNA helix. Oligonucleotides containing the minimal termination signals also cause restriction fragments to migrate with anomalous mobility. A region of the SV40 genome containing a previously characterized bend also causes RNA polymerase II to terminate transcription. We suggest that a structural element causing a bend in the DNA helix may be part of the signal for transcription termination by purified RNA polymerase II.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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