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RNA polymerase (pol) III transcription is specifically elevated in a variety of cancers and is a target of regulation by a variety of tumor suppressors and oncogenes. Accurate initiation by RNA pol III is dependent on TFIIIB. In higher eukaryotes, two forms of TFIIIB have been characterized. TFIIIB required for proper initiation from gene internal RNA pol III promoters is comprised of TBP, Bdp1, and Brf1. Proper initiation from gene external RNA pol III promoters requires TBP, Bdp1, and Brf2. We hypothesized that deregulation of RNA polymerase III transcription in cancer may be a consequence of altered TFIIIB expression Here, we report: (1) the TFIIIB subunits Brf1 and Brf2 are differentially expressed in a variety of cancer cell lines: (2) the Brf1 and Brf2 promoters differ in activity in cancer cell lines, and (3) VAI transcription is universally elevated, as compared to U6, in breast, prostate and cervical cancer cells. Deregulation of TFIIIB-mediated transcription may be an important step in tumor development. We demonstrate that Brf1 and Brf2 mRNA are differentially expressed in a variety of cancer cells and that the Brf2 promoter is more active than the Brf1 promoter in all cell lines tested. We also demonstrate, that Brf1-dependent VAI transcription was significantly higher than the Brf2-dependent U6 snRNA transcription in all cancer cell lines tested. The data presented suggest that Brf2 protein expression levels correlate with U6 promoter activity in the breast, cervical and prostate cell lines tested. Interestingly, the Brf1 protein levels did not vary considerably in HeLa, MCF-7 and DU-145 cells, yet Brf1 mRNA expression varied considerably in breast, prostate and cervical cancer cell lines tested. Thus, Brf1 promoter activity and Brf1 protein expression levels did not correlate well with Brf1-dependent transcription levels. Taken together, we reason that deregulation of Brf1 and Brf2 expression could be a key mechanism responsible for the observed deregulation of RNA pol III transcription in cancer cells.

Citation

Stephanie Cabarcas, Joby Jacob, Ingrid Veras, Laura Schramm. Differential expression of the TFIIIB subunits Brf1 and Brf2 in cancer cells. BMC molecular biology. 2008;9:74

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PMID: 18700021

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