Eukaryotic tRNA genes are controlled by proximal and downstream elements that direct transcription by RNA polymerase (pol) III. Transcription factors (TFs) that reside near the initiation site are related in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and humans, while those that reside at or downstream of the B box share no recognizable sequence relatedness. Human TFIIICbeta is a transcriptional regulator that exhibits no homology to S. cerevisiae sequences on its own. We cloned an essential Schizosaccharomyces pombe gene that encodes a protein, Sfc6p, with homology to the S. cerevisiae TFIIIC subunit, TFC6p, that extends to human TFIIICbeta. We also isolated and cloned S. pombe homologs of three other TFIIIC subunits, Sfc3p, Sfc4p, and Sfc1p, the latter two of which are conserved from S. cerevisiae to humans, while the former shares homology with the S. cerevisiae B box-binding homolog only. Sfc6p is a component of a sequence-specific DNA-binding complex that also contains the B box-binding homolog, Sfc3p. Immunoprecipitation of Sfc3p further revealed that Sfc1p, Sfc3p, Sfc4p, and Sfc6p are associated in vivo and that the isolated Sfc3p complex is active for pol III-mediated transcription of a S. pombe tRNA gene in vitro. These results establish a link between the downstream pol III TFs in yeast and humans.
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