Author(s): Selvakumar T, Gjidoda A, Hovde SL, Henry RW
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Abstract The human small nuclear RNA (snRNA) and small cytoplasmic RNA (scRNA) gene families encode diverse non-coding RNAs that influence cellular growth and division. Many snRNA and scRNA genes are related via their compact and yet powerful promoters that support RNA polymerase III transcription. We have utilized the human U6 snRNA gene family to examine the mechanism for regulated transcription of these potent transcription units. Analysis of nine U6 family members showed enriched CpG density within the promoters of actively transcribed loci relative to inert genes, implying a relationship between gene potency and DNA methylation. Indeed, both pharmacological inhibition of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT) activity and the forced diminution of DNMT-1, DNMT-3a, and DNMT-3b by siRNA targeting resulted in increased U6 levels in asynchronously growing MCF7 adenocarcinoma cells. In vitro transcription assays further showed that template methylation impedes U6 transcription by RNA polymerase III. Both DNMT-1 and DNMT-3a were detected at the U6-1 locus by chromatin immunoprecipitation directly linking these factors to RNA polymerase III regulation. Despite this association, the endogenous U6-1 locus was not substantially methylated in actively growing cells. However, both DNMT occupancy and low frequency methylation were correlated with increased Retinoblastoma tumor suppressor (RB) expression, suggesting that the RB status can influence specific epigenetic marks.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Journal of Carcinogenesis & Mutagenesis