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The heptad repeat of the RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) C-terminal domain is phosphorylated at serine 5 near gene 5' ends and serine 2 near 3' ends in order to recruit pre-mRNA processing factors. Ser-5(P) is associated with gene 5' ends to recruit capping enzymes, whereas Ser-2(P) is associated with gene 3' ends to recruit cleavage and polyadenylation factors. In the gene clusters called operons in Caenorhabditis elegans, there is generally only a single promoter, but each gene in the operon forms a 3' end by the usual mechanism. Although downstream operon genes have 5' ends, they receive their caps by trans splicing rather than by capping enzymes. Thus, they are predicted to not need Ser-5 phosphorylation. Here we show by RNAPII chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) that internal operon gene 5' ends do indeed lack Ser-5(P) peaks. In contrast, Ser-2(P) peaks occur at each mRNA 3' end, where the 3'-end formation machinery binds. These results provide additional support for the idea that the serine phosphorylation of the C-terminal domain (CTD) serves to bring RNA-processing enzymes to the transcription complex. Furthermore, these results provide a novel demonstration that genes in operons are cotranscribed from a single upstream promoter.


Alfonso Garrido-Lecca, Thomas Blumenthal. RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain phosphorylation patterns in Caenorhabditis elegans operons, polycistronic gene clusters with only one promoter. Molecular and cellular biology. 2010 Aug;30(15):3887-93

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PMID: 20498277

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