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Seizl, Martin; Hartmann, Holger; Hoeg, Frederike; Kurth, Fabian; Martin, Dietmar E.; Söding, Johannes and Cramer, Patrick (September 2011): A Conserved GA Element in TATA-Less RNA Polymerase II Promoters.
In: PLOS ONE 6(11), e27595 [PDF, 988kB]


Initiation of RNA polymerase (Pol) II transcription requires assembly of the pre-initiation complex (PIC) at the promoter. In the classical view, PIC assembly starts with binding of the TATA box-binding protein (TBP) to the TATA box. However, a TATA box occurs in only 15% of promoters in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, posing the question how most yeast promoters nucleate PIC assembly. Here we show that one third of all yeast promoters contain a novel conserved DNA element, the GA element (GAE), that generally does not co-occur with the TATA box. The distance of the GAE to the transcription start site (TSS) resembles the distance of the TATA box to the TSS. The TATA-less TMT1 core promoter contains a GAE, recruits TBP, and supports formation of a TBP-TFIIB-DNA-complex. Mutation of the promoter region surrounding the GAE abolishes transcription in vivo and in vitro. A 32-nucleotide promoter region containing the GAE can functionally substitute for the TATA box in a TATA-containing promoter. This identifies the GAE as a conserved promoter element in TATA-less promoters.

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