Naturally occurring poly(purine·pyrimidine) rich regions in the human genome are prone to adopt non-canonical DNA structures such as intramolecular triplexes (i.e. H-DNA). Such structure-forming sequences are abundant and can regulate the expression of several diseases-linked genes. In addition, the use of triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) to modulate gene structure and function has potential as an approach to targeted gene therapy. Previously, we found that endogenous H-DNA structures can induce DNA double-strand breaks and promote genomic rearrangements. Herein, we find that the DHX9 helicase co-immunoprecipitates with triplex DNA structures in mammalian cells, suggesting a role in the maintenance of genome stability. We tested this postulate by assessing the helicase activity of purified human DHX9 on various duplex and triplex DNA substrates in vitro. DHX9 displaced the third strand from a specific triplex DNA structure and catalyzed the unwinding with a 3′→5′ polarity with respect to the displaced third strand. Helicase activity required a 3′-single-stranded overhang on the third strand and was dependent on ATP hydrolysis. The reaction kinetics consisted of a pre-steady-state burst phase followed by a linear, steady-state pseudo-zero-order-reaction. In contrast, very little, if any helicase activity was detected on blunt triplexes, triplexes with 5′-overhangs, blunt duplexes, duplexes with overhangs, or forked duplex substrates. Thus, triplex structures containing a 3′-overhang represent preferred substrates for DHX9, where it removes the strand with Hoogsteen hydrogen-bonded bases. Our results suggest the involvement of DHX9 in maintaining genome integrity by unwinding mutagenic triplex DNA structures.
Sequences located several kilobases both 5' and 3' of the stably transcribed portion of several genes hybridize to radio-labeled pure fragments of the alternating sequence poly (dG-dT) (dC-dA) ["poly(GT)"]. The genes include the ribosomal DNA of mouse, rat, and human, and also human glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) and mouse hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyl transferase (HPRT). HPRT has additional hybridizing sequences in introns. Fragments that include the hybridizing sequences and up to 300 bp of adjoining DNA show perfect runs of poly(GT) (greater than 30bp) in all but the human 5' region of rDNA, which shows a somewhat different alternating purine:pyrimidine sequence, poly(GTAT) (36bp). Within 150 bp of these sequences in various instances are found a number of other sequences reported to affect DNA conformation in model systems. Most marked is an enhancement of sequences matching at least 67% to the consensus binding sequence for topoisomerase II. Two to ten-fold less of such sequences were found in other sequenced portions of the nontranscribed spacer or in the transcribed portion of rDNA. The conservation of the locations of tracts of alternating purine:pyrimidine between evolutionarily diverse species is consistent with a possible functional role for these sequences.
The ability of oligodeoxynucleotides to form specific triple helical structures with critical regulatory sequences in the human dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) promoter was investigated. A battery of purine-rich oligonucleotides targeted to the two purine.pyrimidine strand biased regions near the DHFR transcription initiation site was developed. The stable triple helical structures formed by binding of the oligonucleotides to the native promoter double helix were dominated by G*G.C triplets, with interspersed C*C.G and A*A.T alignments. Mismatches between the oligonucleotide and the purine-rich strand of the target significantly destabilized third strand binding, and a G*A.T alignment was particularly unfavorable. Formation of a pur.pur.pyr triple helical structure results in a localized limitation of access to the native double helical DNA and produces sequence dependent conformational alterations extending several nucleotides beyond the triplex-duplex boundary. Although they differ only by the insertion of two A.T base pairs, the distal and proximal purine.pyrimidine regions can be targeted individually due to the high degree of sequence specificity of triple helical alignment. Triplex formation overlapping any of three consensus transcriptional regulatory elements and collectively covering 50% of the DHFR core promoter is now possible with this set of oligonucleotides.
The GAL1 and GAL10 genes, separated by 680 base pairs and divergently transcribed on chromosome 2 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, were separately fused to the lacZ gene of Escherichia coli so that beta-galactosidase synthesis in S. cerevisiae reflected GAL1 and GAL10 promoter function. Analysis of two sets of deletions defined a 75-base-pair sequence, located ca. midway between the transcription initiation regions of GAL1 and GAL10, that mediates GAL4-dependent induction of both genes. Deletion of various parts of this sequence (called the GAL upstream activating sequence or UASG) reduced GAL1 and GAL10 induction about equally. Sequences in the GAL10-proximal half of UASG in some sequence contexts functioned independently of sequences in the GAL1-proximal half of UASG. A 33-base-pair deletion of the GAL10-proximal half of UASG drastically reduced induction. Deletions between UASG and the GAL1 TATA box caused beta-galactosidase to be synthesized at an unexpectedly high basal level, that is, in the absence of galactose and GAL4 product. Some of these mutations also reduced the repression caused by glucose.
The upstream activating sequence of the adjacent and divergently transcribed GAL1 and GAL10 genes of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (UASG) contains at least three distinct classes of overlapping transcriptional control sites. The transcription activator GAL4 binds to four related sites in UASG and induces expression of GAL1 and GAL10 when galactose is available. We showed that UASG contains two additional positive control sites, designated GAL4/galactose-independent activating elements (GAEs), which reside at positions adjacent to or overlapping the GAL4-binding sites. When separated from neighboring sequences in UASG, the GAEs activate transcription independently of GAL4 with no requirement for galactose. In the intact GAL1-GAL10 divergent promoter region, their activity is ordinarily repressed by multiple negative control elements, the GAL operators. When galactose is available, GAL4 overcomes the activity of the GAL operators, while the putative GAE-binding proteins stay repressed. Combined, these results imply that distinct activators (GAL4 and GAE proteins) bound at adjacent or overlapping sites in UASG are differentially regulated by putative repressor proteins simultaneously bound at adjacent GAL operators. We surmise that GAE1 and GAE2 may have a physiological function other than regulation of galactose catabolism per se and discuss three hypotheses to account for their presence in UASG.
In vitro assembly of an intermolecular purine*purine.pyrimidine triple helix requires the presence of a divalent cation. The relationships between cation coordination and triplex assembly were investigated, and we have obtained new evidence for at least three functionally distinct potential modes of divalent cation coordination. (i) The positive influence of the divalent cation on the affinity of the third strand for its specific target correlates with affinity of the cation for coordination to phosphate. (ii) Once assembled, the integrity of the triple helical structure remains dependent upon its divalent cation component. A mode of heterocyclic coordination/chelation is favorable to triplex formation by decreasing the relative tendency for efflux of integral cations from within the triple helical structure. (iii) There is also a detrimental mode of base coordination through which a divalent cation may actively antagonize triplex assembly, even in the presence of other supportive divalent cations. These results demonstrate the considerable impact of the cationic component, and suggest ways in which the triple helical association might be positively or negatively modulated.
Poly(pyrimidine) . poly(purine) tracts have been discovered in the 5'-flanking regions of many eucaryotic genes. They may be involved in the regulation of expression since they can be mapped to the nuclease-sensitive sites of active chromatin. We have found that poly(pyrimidine) . poly(purine) DNAs which contain 5-methylcytosine (e.g. poly[d(Tm5C)] . poly[d(GA)]) will form a triplex at a pH below 8. In contrast, the unmethylated analogue, poly[d(TC)] . poly[d(GA)] only forms a triplex at pHs below 6. Synthetic DNAs containing repeating trinucleotides and poly[d(Um5C)] . poly[d(GA)] behave in a similar manner. Thus the stability of a triplex can be controlled by methylation of cytosine. This suggests a model for the regulation of expression based upon specific triplex formation on the 5'-side of eucaryotic genes.
(Pyrimidine)n . (purine)n DNAs of repeating sequences form a distinctive complex on lowering the pH below 6. Previously this complex was thought to be tetra-stranded. The present work is inconsistent with this view, and four lines of evidence show that the complex consists of a triplex together with a poly d(purine) possessing secondary structure. Formula: (see text). (a) S1 nuclease digestion leads to degradation of 50% of the poly d(purine) content of the pH 5-induced complex. (b) Buoyant density studies demonstrate that there is no interaction between the triplex and added free poly d(purine) and also that the complex formed from duplex DNA contained poly d(purine) which is free to form a triplex on addition of an appropriate poly d(pyrimidine) in the correct stoichiometry. (c) The hyperchromic shifts of the triplex and poly d(purine), upon melting, are mutually independent. (d) The circular dichroism spectrum of the complex is simply the weighted average of a triplex together with a free poly d(purine). The triplexes have tm's approximately 20 degrees higher than the corresponding duplexes under comparable conditions and they are extremely resistant to various deoxyribonucleases; properties which may prove useful for their isolation from natural sources.
Triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) have been shown to bind to target DNA sequences in several human gene promoters such as the c-myc oncogene, the epidermal growth factor receptor, and the dihydrofolate reductase genes. TFOs have been shown to inhibit transcription in vitro and gene expression in cell culture of the c-myc and other genes. The HER-2/neu oncogene, which is overexpressed in breast cancer and other human malignancies, contains a purine-rich sequence in its promoter, which is favorable for purine:purine:pyrimidine (R:R:Y) triplex formation. Although its function in the HER-2/neu promoter is unknown, this purine-rich site is homologous to a protein-binding sequence in the promoter of the epidermal growth factor receptor that is necessary for efficient transcription of this gene. We have shown that this sequence is a site for nuclear protein binding by incubation with a crude nuclear extract. We describe the formation of an interstrand triplex using a purine-rich oligonucleotide antiparallel to this purine-rich target sequence of the HER-2/neu promoter. Triplex formation by the oligonucleotide prevents protein binding to the target site in the HER-2/neu promoter in vitro. We have shown that this oligonucleotide is a potent and specific inhibitor of HER-2/neu transcription in an in vitro assay. The triplex target site contains a single pyrimidine base that does not conform to the R:R:Y triplex motif. In an attempt to abrogate the potentially destabilizing effects of this pyrimidine base on triplex formation, we have substituted an abasic linker for the pyrimidine residue in the triplex forming oligonucleotide. Triplex formation with the modified oligonucleotide appears to occur with approximately equivalent binding affinity. Triplex formation in the HER-2/neu oncogene promoter prevents transcription in vitro and may represent a future modality for specific inhibition of this gene in vivo.
The relative degree of both equilibrium binding and of ultraviolet light induced adduct formation for the antitumor antibiotic gilvocarin V with two hexaecamer DNA sequence isomers, d[ATATATAGCTATATAT]2 and d[AAAAAAAGCTTTTTTT]2, was assessed. The experiments reveal that gilvocarin V binds, under equilibrium conditions, and reacts, in the presence of exogenously applied UV light, more efficiently with the alternating purine:pyrimidine sequence hexadecamer than the homopurine:homopyrimidine duplex at identical gilvocarcin V to DNA duplex ratios. DNAse I digests of adduct containing duplexes derived from the d[AAAAAAAGCTTTTTTT]2 duplex, identified and isolated using gel shift assays employing denaturing polyacrylamide gels, confirm that gilvocarcin V adducts can be formed with thymine residues but suggest that adduct formation with either adenine or guanine residues is also possible.
Deoxyribooligonucleotides containing 19 repeating bases of A, T or U were prepared with normal phosphodiester (dA19, dT19, dU19) or methylphosphonate (dA*19, dT*19, dU*19) linkages. Complexes of these strands have been investigated at 1:1 and 1:2 molar ratios (purine:pyrimidine) by thermal melting and gel electrophoresis. There are dramatic sequence dependent differences in stabilities of complexes containing methylphosphonate strands. Duplexes of dA*19 with dT19 or dU19 have sharp melting curves, increased Tm values, and slopes of Tm versus log (sodium ion activity) plots reduced by about one half relative to their unmodified 'parent' duplexes. Duplexes of dA19 with either dT*19 or dU*19, however, have broader melting curves, reduced Tm values at most salt concentrations and slopes of less than one tenth the values for the unmodified duplexes. Duplex stabilization due to reduced phosphate charge repulsion is offset in the pyrimidine methylphosphonate complexes by steric and other substituent effects. Triple helical complexes with dA19 + 2dT19 and dA19 + 2dU19, which can be detected by biphasic melting curves and gel electrophoresis, are stable at increased Na+ or Mg+2 concentrations. Surprisingly, however, no triple helix forms, even at very high salt concentrations, when any normal strand(s) is replaced by a methylphosphonate strand. Since triple helical complexes with methylphosphonates have been reported for shorter oligomers, inhibition with larger oligomers may vary due to their length and extent of substitution.
Different helical conformations of DNA (D), RNA (R), and DNA.RNA (DR) hybrid double and triple helices have been detected using affinity cleavage analysis. Synthetic methods were developed to attach EDTA.Fe to a single nucleotide on RNA as well as DNA oligonucleotides. Cleavage patterns generated by a localized diffusible oxidant in the major groove on the pyrimidine strand of four purine.pyrimidine double helices consisting of all DNA, all RNA, and the corresponding hybrids reveal that the relative cleavage intensity shifts to the 5' end of the purine strand increasingly in the order: DD < DR < RD < RR. These results are consistent with models derived from structural studies. In six pyrimidine.purine.pyrimidine triple helices, the altered cleavage patterns of the Watson-Crick pyrimidine strands reveal at least two conformational families: (i) D + DD, R + DD, D + DR, and R + DR and (ii) R + RD and R + RR.
Mutations in the sequences flanking the conserved and essential TAAAT motif of vaccinia late gene promoters (consensus: T/A T/A TAAAT G Pu Pu) affect the level of expression. Introduction of a pyrimidine in the purine stretch downstream of the TAAAT motif reduces the level of RNA synthesis. Mature transcripts from the wild-type 11K late promoter have a non-contiguous 5' poly(A) leader of approximately 35 A-residues (referred to as a poly(A) head). We show here by RNA sequencing, primer extension and subsequent m7G cap selection of cDNA/RNA hybrids that the mutations affect the length of the poly(A) head but not the location of the junction between the poly(A) leader and sequences encoded in the genome. These results are consistent with a slippage mechanism underlying the process of 5' poly(A) addition, but are not in agreement with a splicing event.
The DNA loop that represses transcription from the gal promoters is infrequently formed in stationary phase cells because the concentration of the loop architectural protein, HU, is significantly low at that state resulting in expression of the operon in the absence of the gal inducer, D-galactose. Unexpectedly, transcription from the gal promoters, under these conditions, overrides the physical block because of the presence of the Gal repressor (GalR) bound to an internal operator (OI) located downstream of the promoters. We have shown here that although a stretch of pyrimidine residues (UUCU) in the RNA:DNA hybrid located immediately upstream of OI weaken the RNA-DNA hybrid and favors RNA polymerase (RNAP) pausing and backtracking, a stretch of purines (GAGAG) in the RNA present immediately upstream of the pause sequence in the hybrid acts as an anti-pause element by stabilizing the RNA:DNA duplex and preventing backtracking. This facilitates forward translocation of RNAP including overriding of the DNA-bound GalR barrier at OI. When the GAGAG sequence is separated from the pyrimidine sequence by a 5-bp DNA insertion, RNAP backtracking is favored from a weak hybrid to a more stable hybrid. RNAP backtracking is sensitive to Gre factors, D-galactose and antisense oligonucleotides. The ability of a native DNA sequence to override transcription elongation blocks in the gal operon uncovers a previously unknown way to regulate galactose metabolism in E. coli. It also explains the synthesis of gal enzymes in the absence of inducer for biosynthetic reactions.
GalR; backtracking; roadblock; pausing; transcription
A predominantly pyrimidine-rich sequence (purine in the template strand, 32 of 37 bases) is located between a functional TATA element and the corresponding transcription start site region of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae iso-1-cytochrome c (CYC1) gene. By using linker deletions and gene fusion techniques, the functional characteristics of this pyrimidine sequence were examined. Results indicate that the function of this element is to limit the accumulation of full-length mRNAs with 5' ends which map upstream of the pyrimidine-rich sequence. Data suggest that the 5'-noncoding region of the CYC1 gene possesses signals for mRNA 3'-end processing.
Expanded GAA·TTC trinucleotide repeats in intron 1 of the frataxin gene cause Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) by reducing frataxin mRNA levels. Insufficient frataxin, a nuclear encoded mitochondrial protein, leads to the progressive neurodegeneration and cardiomyopathy characteristic of FRDA. Previously we demonstrated that long GAA·TTC tracts impede transcription elongation in vitro and provided evidence that the impediment results from an intramolecular purine·purine·pyrimidine DNA triplex formed behind an advancing RNA polymerase. Our model predicts that inhibiting formation of this triplex during transcription will increase successful elongation through GAA·TTC tracts. Here we show that this is the case. Oligodeoxyribonucleotides designed to block particular types of triplex formation provide specific and concentration-dependent increases in full-length transcript. In principle, therapeutic agents that selectively interfere with triplex formation could alleviate the frataxin transcript insufficiency caused by pathogenic FRDA alleles.
The rat alpha1(I) collagen promoter contains a unique polypurine-polypyrimidine sequence between -141 and -200 upstream of the transcription start site. The polypurine sequence from -171 to -200 (C2) is on the coding strand and the adjacent polypurine sequence from -141 to -170 (C1) is on the non-coding strand. Earlier we demonstrated triplex formation with a polypurine 30 nt parallel triplex-forming oligonucleotide (TFO) corresponding to C1 and inhibition of transcriptional activity of the rat alpha1(I) collagen promoter. In the present work we have tested triplex-forming abilities of shorter (18 nt) purine and pyrimidine TFOs in parallel and antiparallel orientation to the C1 purine sequence. Our results show that purine antiparallel TFOs formed triplexes with the highest binding affinities, while pyrimidine oligodeoxyribonucleotides (ODNs) did not show appreciable binding. Phosphorothioate modification of purine TFOs did not significantly reduce binding affinity. We also demonstrate that preformed triplexes are quite stable when precipitated with ethanol and resuspended in water. Further analysis was carried out using two purine phosphorothioate antiparallel TFOs, 158 APS and 164 APS, designed to bind to the promoter region from -141 to -158 and -147 to -164, respectively, which were found to form triplexes even under physiological conditions. DNase I footprinting experiments showed the ability of these TFOs to protect target sequences in the promoter region; both purine sequences (C1 and C2) were protected in the case of 158 APS. Transfection experiments using preformed triplexes with a reporter plasmid containing the collagen promoter sequence showed significant inhibition of transcription when compared with a control phosphorothioate ODN. The effect of 164 APS was greater than that of 158 APS. These results indicate that this triplex strategy could be used in the down-regulation of collagen synthesis in cultured cells and offer the potential to control fibrosis in vivo.
In addition to the well-known internal promoter elements of tRNA genes, 5' flanking sequences can also influence the efficiency of transcription by Saccharomyces cerevisiae extracts in vitro. A consensus sequence of yeast tRNA genes in the vicinity of the transcriptional start site can be derived. To determine whether the activity of this region can be attributed to particular sequence features we studied in vitro mutants of the start site region. We found that the start site can be shifted, but only to a limited extent, by moving the conserved sequence element. We found that both a pyrimidine-purine motif (with transcription initiating at the purine) and a small T:A base pair block upstream are important for efficient transcription in vitro. Thus the sequence surrounding the start site of transcription of the yeast tRNA(Leu3) gene does play a role in determining transcription efficiency and fixing the precise site of initiation by RNA polymerase III.
A significant limitation to the practical application of triplex DNA is its requirement for oligopurine tracts in target DNA sequences. The repertoire of triplex-forming sequences can potentially be expanded to adjacent blocks of purines and pyrimidines by allowing the third strand to pair with purines on alternate strands, while maintaining the required strand polarities by combining the two major classes of base triplets, Py.PuPy and Pu.PuPy. The formation of triplex DNA in this fashion requires no unusual bases or backbone linkages on the third strand. This approach has previously been demonstrated for target sequences of the type 5'-(Pu)n(Py)n-3' in intramolecular complexes. Using affinity cleaving and DNase I footprinting, we show here that intermolecular triplexes can also be formed at both 5'-(Pu)n(Py)n-3' and 5'-(Py)n(Pu)n-3' target sequences. However, triplex formation at a 5'-(Py)n(Pu)n-3' sequence occurs with lower yield. Triplex formation is disfavored, even at acid pH, when a number of contiguous C+.GC base triplets are required. These results suggest that triplex formation via alternate strand recognition at sequences made up of blocks of purines and pyrimidines may be generally feasible.
Triplex DNA formation involving unmodified triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFOs) is very unstable under physiological conditions. Here, we report a novel strategy to stabilize both purine and pyrimidine motif triplex DNA within the rat alpha1 (I) collagen gene promoter under physiologically relevant conditions by a poly(L-lysine)- graft -dextran copolymer. Using an in vitro electrophoretic mobility shift assay, we show that the copolymer almost completely abrogates the inhibitory effects of physiological concentrations of monovalent cations, particularly potassium ion (K+), on purine motif triplex formation involving very low concentrations of an unmodified guanine-rich TFO. Of importance, pH dependency in pyrimidine motif triplex formation involving an unmodified cytosine-rich TFO is also significantly overcome by the copolymer. Finally, the triplex-stabilizing efficiency of the copolymer is remarkably higher than that of other oligocations, like spermine and spermidine. We suggest that the ability of the graft copolymer to stabilize triplex DNA under physiologically relevant pH and salt concentrations will be a cue for further progress in the antigene strategy.
The formation of triple-helical DNA has been implicated in several cellular processes, including transcription, replication and recombination. While there is no direct evidence for triplexes in vivo, cellular proteins that specifically recognize triplex DNA have been described. Using a purine-motif triplex probe and southwestern library screening, we isolated five independent clones expressing the same C-terminal 210 amino acids of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein Cdp1p fused with β-galactosidase. In electrophoretic mobility shift assays, recombinant Cdp1pΔ1-867 bound Pu-motif triplex DNAs with high affinity (Kd ~5 nM) and bound Py-motif triplex, duplex and single-stranded DNAs with far lower affinity (0.5–5.0 µM). Genetic analyses revealed that the CDP1 gene product was required for proper chromosome segregation. The possible involvement of triplex DNA in this process is discussed.
Hybridization properties of oligodeoxyxylonucleotides (OXNs) built from pyrimidine monomers with an inverted 3′-OH group of the furanose have been studied using the gel mobility shift, UV melting and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy methods. Pyrimidine OXNs form triple helices with complementary purine RNA in which one OXN is parallel and another is antiparallel with respect to the RNA target. Surprisingly, no duplex formation between the pyrimidine OXNs and purine RNAs is detected. The modified triplexes are stable at pH 7. Their thermal stability depends on the number of C(G-C) triplets and, for G-rich RNA sequences, it is comparable with the stability of native DNA–RNA duplexes. The CD spectra of triplexes formed by OXNs with purine RNA targets are similar to spectra of A-type helices. A pyrimidine OXN having a clamp structure efficiently inhibits reverse transcription of murine pim-1 mRNA in vitro mediated by the Mo-MuLV reverse transcriptase.
We constructed a series of deletions in the 5' noncoding region of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae GAL7 gene, fused them to the Escherichia coli gene lacZ, and introduced them into yeasts by using a multicopy vector. We then studied the effect of the deletions on beta-galactosidase synthesis directed by the gene fusions in media with various carbon sources. This analysis identified a TATA box and two upstream activating sequences as necessary elements for galactose-controlled GAL7 transcription. Two upstream activating sequences exhibiting 71% homology with each other were located 255 and 168 base pairs, respectively, upstream of the GAL7 transcription start point. Each sequence consists of 21 base pairs, displaying an approximate rotational symmetry with a core consensus sequence of GAA--AGCTGCTTC--CGCG. At least one of the two sequences is required for galactose induction and also for glucose repression of the GAL7'-lac'Z gene. Analysis with host regulatory mutants delta gal14 and delta gal180 suggests that these sequences are the site at which the GAL4 product exerts its action to activate the GAL7 gene. We also observed that a deletion lacking both upstream activation sequences allowed the gene fusion to be expressed in the absence of galactose at about 10% of the fully induced level of the intact fusion. This constitutive expression depended on the presence of the TATA box of GAL7 in cis but not on a functional GAL4 gene. The level of the uncontrolled expression was decreased by increasing the distance between the TATA box and the pBR322 sequence in the vector plasmid.
It has been demonstrated that certain alternating purine and pyrimidine sequences may assume a left-handed Z-DNA conformation. In order to evaluate the possibility that Z-DNA is involved in the modulation of gene expression, we examined the ability of various synthetic DNA polymers to affect the transfection of herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase (HSVtk) gene in Ltk- cells using the DNA-calcium phosphate cotransfection technique. We found that potential Z-DNA forming polymers such as, poly(dG-m5dC) X poly(dG-m5dC) and poly(dG-dC) X poly(dG-dC), cotransfected with the tk gene decreased the level of Tk+ transformed colonies. In contrast, cotransfection of the tk gene with polymers which do not assume Z-conformation such as, poly(dG) X poly(dC) or poly(dA-dT) X poly(dA-dT) showed no effect on the number of colonies formed. About 50% inhibition of the Tk+ colony formation was obtained by 0.4 micrograms of poly(dG-m5dC) X poly(dG-m5dC), or by 2 micrograms of poly(dG-dC) X poly(dG-dC). DNA uptake into Ltk- cells was not significantly affected by any of these polymers. Approximately 20-42 base pairs (bp) long alternating dG-dC sequence linked at either the 5'-end or 3'-end of tk gene were cloned into plasmids. These recombinant plasmids, however, showed no remarkable effect upon the transfection of Ltk- cells. The DNAs of Tk+ colonies obtained by transfecting these recombinant plasmids were digested with BssH II and analyzed by Southern blotting. We demonstrated that the dG-dC sequences proximal to the tk gene were integrated into cellular DNA. All the presented results indicate that only larger polymers with the potential to assume a Z-DNA conformation may affect tk gene transfection either by inhibiting transcription or more probably by affecting the stable integration of the tk gene into the host chromosome.
Analysis of the 5' ends of six apparently full-length cloned cDNA copies of the vaccinia virus growth factor gene suggested precise transcriptional initiation at the first purine following a run of five pyrimidines in the noncoding strand. By contrast, the 3' ends exhibited heterogeneity and were distributed over a 46-base-pair region. In each of the six cDNAs, the nucleotide immediately preceding the retained copy of the poly(A) tail corresponded to the first or second T of a TATGT repeat. Clusters of Ts occurred upstream of the 3' ends, but the AATAAA polyadenylation consensus sequence of higher eucaryotes was absent. Determination of the complete sequence of one cDNA revealed exact correspondence with the vaccinia virus growth factor gene, indicating the absence of internal RNA processing.