The nucleotide sequence of the initiation and termination sites for ribosomal rna transcription in x. laevis

Barbara Sollner-Webb, Ronald H. Reeder

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350 Scopus citations


In this study, we have located the sites of transcription initiation and termination on a cloned fragment of ribosomal DNA from X. laevis, and have sequenced the surrounding nucleotides. As reported previously (Reeder, Sollner-Webb and Wahn, 1977), about 25% of the 40S rRNA precursor molecules isolated from oocytes have polyphosphate 5′ termini and are therefore presumed to represent primary transcripts. These ends hybridize specifically to a 221 bp fragment of ribosomal DNA. The nucleotides encoding the 5′ end of the 40S RNA were located more precisely by two methods. In one, we hybridized 40S RNA to the 221 bp DNA fragment and removed the overhanging DNA region with S1 nuclease. In the other, we hybridized 40S RNA to a smaller DNA fragment and extended the recessed 3′ terminus of the DNA using reverse transcriptase. The resultant DNA fragments were sized on sequencing gels. Both determinations map the 5′ end of 40S RNA at the same site in the rDNA, about 2250 bp upstream from the Eco RI site in the 18S rRNA coding sequence. At this site we find a DNA sequence beginning AGGGGAAGAC ... which agrees with partial sequence data from the 5′ end of polyphosphorylated and bulk 40S rRNA. Features of this region of the ribosomal DNA will be discussed in this paper. A 227 nucleotide region surrounding the initiation site was also sequenced from an independently derived clone and found to differ in only one nucleotide. In addition, a sequence is found about 1100 nucleotides upstream from the 5′ end of the gene that has 90% homology to the sequence from nucleotides -125 to +4 in the initiation region. At the termination region, X. laevis ribosomal DNA has a single recognition site for the restriction enzyme Hind III in each repeating unit. Using the S1 nuclease technique, the 3′ termini of both the 40S precursor and mature 28S rRNA are seen to map within this recognition sequence. The sequence surrounding the Hind III site has striking homology to termination sites recognized by other RNA polymerase classes. Sequences with similar features are also found upstream from the initiation site.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-499
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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