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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Oct 15;93(21):11586-90.

UV-induced ubiquitination of RNA polymerase II: a novel modification deficient in Cockayne syndrome cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Damage to actively transcribed DNA is preferentially repaired by the transcription-coupled repair (TCR) system. TCR requires RNA polymerase II (Pol II), but the mechanism by which repair enzymes preferentially recognize and repair DNA lesions on Pol II-transcribed genes is incompletely understood. Herein we demonstrate that a fraction of the large subunit of Pol II (Pol II LS) is ubiquitinated after exposing cells to UV-radiation or cisplatin but not several other DNA damaging agents. This novel covalent modification of Pol II LS occurs within 15 min of exposing cells to UV-radiation and persists for about 8-12 hr. Ubiquitinated Pol II LS is also phosphorylated on the C-terminal domain. UV-induced ubiquitination of Pol II LS is deficient in fibroblasts from individuals with two forms of Cockayne syndrome (CS-A and CS-B), a rare disorder in which TCR is disrupted. UV-induced ubiquitination of Pol II LS can be restored by introducing cDNA constructs encoding the CSA or CSB genes, respectively, into CS-A or CS-B fibroblasts. These results suggest that ubiquitination of Pol II LS plays a role in the recognition and/or repair of damage to actively transcribed genes. Alternatively, these findings may reflect a role played by the CSA and CSB gene products in transcription.

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