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Mol Cell Biol. 1993 Apr;13(4):2081-90.

Three downstream sites repress transcription of a Ty2 retrotransposon in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Catonsville 21228.


Transcription of Ty1 and Ty2 retrotransposons of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is modulated by multiple downstream regulatory sites. Both transposon families include a positively acting site within the transcribed region which resembles a higher eukaryotic enhancer. We have demonstrated the existence of a repression site distal to the enhancer of the Ty2-917 element. Here we describe experiments investigating the internal structure of this site. We show that this 200-bp region includes three distinct repression sites which we term DRSI (downstream repression site I), DRSII, and DRSIII. Individually each site causes almost twofold repression, and together the sites repress eightfold. Unexpectedly, when the entire region encompassing the DRS sites is moved outside the transcription unit, it acts as a qualitatively positively acting element. In this context the DRS sites still repress transcription, since eliminating them increases transcription further. That the region can activate transcription implies that it includes activation sites in addition to the three repression sites. The change from qualitatively negatively acting to positively acting must reflect a change in the relative effects of the multiple positive and negative sites; when moved outside the transcription unit, the activators predominate. Importantly, DRSII and DRSIII repress transcription autonomously when inserted upstream of a heterologous promoter activated by the transcriptional activator GCN4, showing that they are indeed transcriptional repression sites.

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