The minimum intragenic sequences required for promotion of eukaryotic tRNA gene transcription

  • Sharp S
  • Dingermann T
  • Söll D
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Transcription of eukaryotic tRNA genes is controlled by two intragenic regions, the D-control region (which in the tRNA codes for the D-stem and -loop) and the T-control region (which in the tRNA codes for the T psi C loop). To determine whether these sequences alone are sufficient to promote tRNA gene transcription in vitro, the two control regions of a Drosophila tRNAArg gene were cloned separately from the context of the parental DNA (these constructions are called tRNA minigenes). The tRNA minigene that contains both intragenic control regions supports in vitro RNA synthesis in Xenopus laevis oocyte and HeLa cell transcription systems. The mutant which has deletions to nucleotide 7 within the mature tRNA coding region, pArg5.7, and minigenes derived from it do not support RNA synthesis in a Drosophila Kc cell transcription system. Xenopus and Hela extracts transcribe pArg5.7 albeit at reduced levels compared to the wild-type gene. The tRNA minigene that contained only the D-control region was not able to support RNA synthesis in any of these three transcription systems. A mutant tRNA gene comprising the 3' half of the tRNAArg gene similarly was not able to support RNA synthesis. These experiments show that the DNA sequence from nucleotides 7-58, which contains both intragenic control regions of the tRNA gene, possesses sufficient information to initiate specific transcription by RNA polymerase III in Xenopus and HeLa systems. The transcription efficiency of this tRNA minigene however is reduced to about 20% the transcription level of the wild type tRNA gene. This lowered level of transcriptional efficiency results from deleting the ends of the native tRNA gene and its adjacent flanking sequences. The affects of deleting 5' sequences are most pronounced in the Drosophila transcription system.

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  • Stephen Sharp

  • Theodor Dingermann

  • Dieter Söll

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