In addition to xeroderma pigmentosum, mutations in the human XPG gene cause early onset Cockayne syndrome (CS). Here, we provide evidence for the involvement of RAD2, the S. cerevisiae counterpart of XPG, in promoting efficient RNA polymerase II transcription. Inactivation of RAD26, the S. cerevisiae counterpart of the human CSB gene, also causes a deficiency in transcription, and a synergistic decline in transcription occurs in the absence of both the RAD2 and RAD26 genes. Growth is also retarded in the rad2 Delta and rad26 Delta single mutant strains, and a very severe growth inhibition is seen in the rad2 Delta rad26 Delta double mutant. From these and other observations presented here, we suggest that transcriptional defects are the underlying cause of CS.
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