Genetic analysis of the repetitive carboxyl-terminal domain of the largest subunit of mouse RNA polymerase II.

M. S. Bartolomei, N. F. Halden, C. R. Cullen, J. L. Corden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) of the mouse RNA polymerase II largest subunit consists of 52 repeats of a seven-amino-acid block with the consensus sequence Tyr-Ser-Pro-Thr-Ser-Pro-Ser. A genetic approach was used to determine whether the CTD plays an essential role in RNA polymerase function. Deletion, insertion, and substitution mutations were created in the repetitive region of an alpha-amanitin-resistant largest-subunit gene. The effects of these mutations on RNA polymerase II activity were assayed by measuring the ability of mutant genes to confer alpha-amanitin resistance after transfection of susceptible rodent cells. Mutations that resulted in CTDs containing between 36 and 78 repeats had no effect on the transfer of alpha-amanitin resistance, whereas mutations with 25 or fewer repeats were inactive in this assay. Mutations that contained 29, 31, or 32 repeats had an intermediate effect; the number of alpha-amanitin-resistant colonies was lower and the colonies obtained were smaller, indicating that the mutant RNA polymerase II was defective. In addition, not all of the heptameric repeats were functionally equivalent in that repeats that diverged in up to three amino acids from the consensus sequence could not substitute for the conserved heptamer repeats. We concluded that the CTD is essential for RNA polymerase II activity, since substantial mutations in this region result in loss of function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-339
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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