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The TATA-binding proteins (TBP) from both human and Drosophila have been shown to exist in various distinct multiprotein complexes that are required, respectively, for transcription by all three RNA polymerases. In contrast, in vitro biochemical analyses have suggested that yeast TBP exists as a monomeric 27-kDa protein free in solution. We have examined the oligomerization state of yeast TBP and report here that yeast TBP, like human and Drosophila TBPs, is also stably associated with other proteins in vitro. Using anti-TBP antibodies we have immunopurified yeast TBP and associated factors (TBP-associated factors or TAFs). When this fraction was analyzed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, polypeptides of approximate relative molecular size ranging from 170 to 60 kDa are prominently represented. Immunoblot analysis revealed that one of these TAFs, TAF70, corresponds to BRF1/TDS4/PCF4, a subunit of transcription factor (TF) IIIB. Furthermore, this highly purified TAF fraction can reconstitute polymerase III transcription when supplemented with purified RNA polymerase III and TFIIIC. Our data indicate that our TAF fraction contains TFIIIB transcription factor activity and that all the subunits of yeast TFIIIB are stably complexed with TBP.
The yeast transcription factor TFIIIB has been examined with regard to its hydrodynamic properties. This protein, which is required for both tRNA and 5 S rRNA gene transcription in vitro, exhibits unusual physical properties. When analyzed by denaturing polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis TFIIIB is a single polypeptide of Mr approximately 60,000. When this transcription factor is subjected to rate zonal centrifugation on glycerol gradients, it sediments between ovalbumin (Mr = 45,000) and bovine serum albumin (Mr = 66,300). This sedimentation behavior is consistent with TFIIIB being a monomer in its native state. However, when TFIIIB was analyzed by gel filtration chromatography it was determined to have a Stokes radius of 53 A, eluting from this chromatography matrix near the position of catalase (Mr = 248,000). This anomalous behavior suggests that TFIIIB is a very asymmetric molecule. Purified TFIIIB was subjected to amino acid analyses and the resulting composition data used to calculate a partial specific volume for the intact molecule. All of these data were then used to estimate possible molecular dimensions of the native TFIIIB molecule. Results of these calculations are consistent with the idea that this transcription factor is a very elongated entity.
Eukaryotic tRNA expression initiates with transcription by RNA polymerase III and requires two additional protein factors and two regions within the tRNA gene (the 5'-internal control region (ICR) or A-box and the 3'-ICR or B-box). Using a reconstituted Saccharomyces cerevisiae RNA polymerase III system, the transcription of various 5'-ICR, 3'-ICR, and double mutation alleles of the Schizosaccharomyces pombe sup3-e dimeric tRNA gene were studied. The sup3-e tRNA locus consists of an upstream serine tRNA gene and a downstream initiator methionine tRNA gene which are transcribed as a dimeric precursor and processed to give two tRNAs. Only the ICRs of the tRNA(Ser) gene are active in directing dimeric gene transcription. Mutations in the 3'-ICR of the tRNA(Ser) gene reduce transcription of the dimer more than those in the 5'-ICR. Mutations in the 5'-ICR were found which greatly increased or decreased transcription of the dimer, while base changes in the 3'-ICR were only found to decrease transcription. This suggests a modulatory role for the 5'-ICR in transcription regulation. Mutation of the methionine tRNA gene ICR has little effect on sup3-e transcription, and no detectable transcripts initiate from the methionine tRNA gene when the tRNA(Ser) gene promoter is inactivated by mutation. Comparison with transcription studies of other mutant tRNA genes suggests that nucleotides sites within the ICRs, such as nucleotides 8, 10, 13, 18, and 19 in the 5'-ICR and 48, 53, 56, 57, and 58 in the 3'-ICR, appear to have evolved universal importance for RNA polymerase III transcription in eukaryotes. Thus these ICR sequences may play a critical role in regulation of tRNA expression.