Indexed on: 26 Aug '09Published on: 26 Aug '09Published in: Experimental Parasitology
RNA polymerase II (pol II) promoters are rare in the African trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei because gene regulation in the parasite is complex and polycistronic. Here, we describe a putative pol II promoter and its structure-function relationship. The promoter has features of an archetypal eukaryotic pol II promoter including putative canonical CCAAT and TATA boxes, and an initiator element. However, the spatial arrangement of these elements is only similar to yeast pol II promoters. Deletion mapping and transcription assays enabled delineation of a minimal promoter that could drive orientation-independent reporter gene expression suggesting that it may be a bidirectional promoter. In vitro transcription in a heterologous nuclear extract revealed that the promoter can be recognized by the basal eukaryotic transcription complex. This suggests that the transcription machinery in the parasite may be very similar to those of other eukaryotes.