UVB Induces a Genome-Wide Acting Negative Regulatory Mechanism That Operates at the Level of Transcription Initiation in Human Cells

Ákos Gyenis, David Umlauf, Zsuzsanna Újfaludi, Imre Boros, Tao Ye, Làszlò Tora

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Faithful transcription of DNA is constantly threatened by different endogenous and environmental genotoxic effects. Transcription coupled repair (TCR) has been described to stop transcription and quickly remove DNA lesions from the transcribed strand of active genes, permitting rapid resumption of blocked transcription. This repair mechanism has been well characterized in the past using individual target genes. Moreover, numerous efforts investigated the fate of blocked RNA polymerase II (Pol II) during DNA repair mechanisms and suggested that stopped Pol II complexes can either backtrack, be removed and degraded or bypass the lesions to allow TCR. We investigated the effect of a non-lethal dose of UVB on global DNA-bound Pol II distribution in human cells. We found that the used UVB dose did not induce Pol II degradation however surprisingly at about 93% of the promoters of all expressed genes Pol II occupancy was seriously reduced 2-4 hours following UVB irradiation. The presence of Pol II at these cleared promoters was restored 5-6 hours after irradiation, indicating that the negative regulation is very dynamic. We also identified a small set of genes (including several p53 regulated genes), where the UVB-induced Pol II clearing did not operate. Interestingly, at promoters, where Pol II promoter clearance occurs, TFIIH, but not TBP, follows the behavior of Pol II, suggesting that at these genes upon UVB treatment TFIIH is sequestered for DNA repair by the TCR machinery. In agreement, in cells where the TCR factor, the Cockayne Syndrome B protein, was depleted UVB did not induce Pol II and TFIIH clearance at promoters. Thus, our study reveals a UVB induced negative regulatory mechanism that targets Pol II transcription initiation on the large majority of transcribed gene promoters, and a small subset of genes, where Pol II escapes this negative regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004483
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research

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