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Signals from transcriptional activators to the general mRNA transcription apparatus are communicated by factors associated with RNA polymerase II or the TATA-binding protein (TBP). Currently, little is known about how gene-specific transcription repressors communicate with RNA polymerase II. We have analyzed the requirements for repression by the saccharomyces cerevisiae Leu3 protein (Leu3p) in a reconstituted transcription system. We have identified a complex form of TBP which is required for communication of the repressing signal. This TFIID-like complex contains a known TBP-associated protein, Mot1p, which has been implicated in the repression of a subset of yeast genes by genetic analysis. Leu3p-dependent repression can be reconstituted with purified Mot1p and recombinant TBP. In addition, a mutation in the Mot1 gene leads to partial derepression of the Leu3p-dependent LEU2 promoter. These in vivo and in vitro observations define a role for Mot1p as a transcriptional corepressor.