Alu interspersed repetitive elements possess internal RNA polymerase III promoters that are transcribed in vitro and in transfected mouse cells but are nearly silent in human HeLa cells. Transcriptional repression of these elements is to some extent reversible, as pol III-dependent Alu expression can be induced with herpes simplex or adenovirus. To assess whether sequence-specific DNA binding proteins might contribute to Alu transcriptional silencing, we examined the internucleosomal spacer region surrounding the B box of the Alu pol III promoter in HeLa cell nuclei for evidence of proteins bound at specific sites in vivo. We identified a DNase I-hypersensitive site 5' to the B box and a DNase I-resistant region 3' to the B box in nuclei. An Alu-specific repressor binds to a 5-bp inverted repeat motif overlapping the 5' end of the TFIIIC binding site and may inhibit pol III transcription through competitive displacement. The level of Alu-specific pol III repressor activity is significantly reduced in adenovirus-infected HeLa cells, suggesting that the repressor may contribute to Alu transcriptional silencing in vivo. The 3' DNase I-resistant region coincided with a binding site for the pol II transcription factor YY1 in vitro. YY1 is one of the major proteins in HeLa cells having binding specificity for Alu elements. YY1 bound to tandem arrays of genomic Alu elements may play a role in chromatin organization and silencing.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||18|
|State||Published - 1996|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology