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Cell. 1993 May 7;73(3):533-40.

DNA topology and a minimal set of basal factors for transcription by RNA polymerase II.

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Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139-4307.


Immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) gene transcription in vitro can be reconstituted with a minimal reaction containing only TATA-binding protein (TBP), TFIIB, and RNA polymerase II (pol II) when the template is negatively supercoiled. Transcription from linear DNA templates containing either the IgH or the adenovirus major late promoters (MLPs) requires in addition TFIIF, TFIIE, TFIIH, and a fraction containing TFIIA and TFIIJ. Promoters vary in their activities in the minimal reaction. Initiation at the adenovirus MLP site was not observed in this reaction, even with templates containing negative superhelical density. When only TBP, TFIIB, and pol II were present in the reaction, the more negatively supercoiled the IgH template DNA was, the more active the transcription. It is suggested that the free energy of supercoiling promotes the formation of an open complex for initiation of transcription by the minimal set of transcription factors.

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