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Insect small nuclear RNA gene promoters evolve rapidly yet retain conserved features involved in determining promoter activity and RNA polymerase specificity.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Nucleic Acids Research
1362-4962
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
Volume
35
Issue
1
Pages
21–34
Identifiers
PMID: 17148477
Source
Medline

Abstract

In animals, most small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) are synthesized by RNA polymerase II (Pol II), but U6 snRNA is synthesized by RNA polymerase III (Pol III). In Drosophila melanogaster, the promoters for the Pol II-transcribed snRNA genes consist of approximately 21 bp PSEA and approximately 8 bp PSEB. U6 genes utilize a PSEA but have a TATA box instead of the PSEB. The PSEAs of the two classes of genes bind the same protein complex, DmSNAPc. However, the PSEAs that recruit Pol II and Pol III differ in sequence at a few nucleotide positions that play an important role in determining RNA polymerase specificity. We have now performed a bioinformatic analysis to examine the conservation and divergence of the snRNA gene promoter elements in other species of insects. The 5' half of the PSEA is well-conserved, but the 3' half is divergent. Moreover, within each species positions exist where the PSEAs of the Pol III-transcribed genes differ from those of the Pol II-transcribed genes. Interestingly, the specific positions vary among species. Nevertheless, we speculate that these nucleotide differences within the 3' half of the PSEA act similarly to induce conformational alterations in DNA-bound SNAPc that result in RNA polymerase specificity.

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