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Sites of RNA polymerase III transcription initiation and Ty3 integration at the U6 gene are positioned by the TATA box.

  • Author(s): Chalker, DL
  • Sandmeyer, SB
  • et al.
Abstract

The function of a TATA element in RNA polymerase (EC 2.7.7.6) III transcription of a naturally TATA-containing U6 snRNA gene and a naturally TATA-less tRNA gene was probed by transcription and Ty3 transposition analyses. Deletion of the TATA box from a U6 minigene did not abolish transcription and Ty3 integration but changed the positions of initiation and insertion. Insertion of the U6 TATA box at three positions upstream of the TATA-less SUP2 tRNA(Tyr) gene resulted in novel transcription initiation and Ty3 integration patterns that depended upon position of the insertion. Nevertheless, the predominant tRNA gene initiation sites were not affected by insertion of the TATA sequence and remained at a fixed distance from the internal box A promoter element. Insertions of the TATA box upstream of a SUP2 box A mutant affected the level of transcription and restricted the use of upstream start sites, but they neither enhanced the use of TATA-dependent initiation sites nor restored expression to the level of the wild-type gene. We conclude that (i) the U6 TATA box is essential in vivo for correct initiation but not for transcription, (ii) a TATA box does not compensate for a weak box A sequence and so cannot perform equivalently, and (iii) the TATA-binding protein, and probably components of transcription factor IIIB, are present on the target at the time of Ty3 integration.

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