Mechanism of Transcription Through the Nucleosome by Eukaryotic RNA Polymerase

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Science  12 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5345, pp. 1960-1963
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5345.1960

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Nucleosomes, the nucleohistone subunits of chromatin, are present on transcribed eukaryotic genes but do not prevent transcription. It is shown here that the large yeast RNA polymerase III transcribes through a single nucleosome. This takes place through a direct internal nucleosome transfer in which histones never leave the DNA template. During this process, the polymerase pauses with a pronounced periodicity of 10 to 11 base pairs, which is consistent with restricted rotation in the DNA loop formed during transfer. Transcription through nucleosomes by the eukaryotic enzyme and by much smaller prokaryotic RNA polymerases thus shares many features, reflecting an important property of nucleosomes.

  • * Present address: Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 540 East Canfield Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201, USA.

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