A novel activity associated with RNA polymerase II elongation factor SIII: SIII directs promoter-independent transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II in the absence of initiation factors

Yuichiro Takagi, Joan Weliky Conaway, Ronald C. Conaway

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General transcription factor SIII, a heterotrimer of 110-, 18-, and 15-kDa subunits, was shown previously to stimulate the overall rate of RNA chain elongation by RNA polymerase II by suppressing transient pausing by polymerase at many sites along DNA templates (Bradsher, J. N., Jackson, K. W., Conaway, R. C., and Conaway, J. W. (1993) J. Biol. Chem. 268, 25587-25593). In this report, SIII is shown to possesses the novel ability to direct robust but promiscuous transcription by RNA polymerase II on duplex DNA templates in the absence of initiation factors. Mechanistic studies reveal that SIII promotes RNA synthesis by substantially increasing the efficiency with which RNA polymerase II initiates promoter-independent transcription from the ends of duplex DNA. Remarkably, SIII appears to have a negligible effect on de novo synthesis of end-to-end transcripts. Instead, analysis of reaction products indicates that SIII is capable of promoting a dramatic increase in the ability of RNA polymerase II to extend the 3′-hydroxyl termini of duplex DNA fragments, in a template-directed reaction exhibiting no strong preference for 3′-protruding, 3′-recessed, or blunt DNA ends. Although RNA polymerase II has been shown previously to catalyze primer-dependent transcription, SIII is the first eukaryotic transcription factor found to promote this reaction. Based on these findings, we propose that SIII may suppress transient pausing by RNA polymerase II by helping to maintain the 3′-hydroxyl terminus of the nascent RNA chain in its proper position in the polymerase active site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24300-24305
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number41
StatePublished - Oct 13 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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