Mutation of nucleotides around the +1 position of type 3 polymerase III promoters: The effect on transcriptional activity and start site usage

Zongliang Gao, Alex Harwig, Ben Berkhout, Elena Herrera-Carrillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Type 3 RNA polymerase III (Pol III) promoters are widely used for the expression of small RNAs such as short hairpin RNA and guide RNA in the popular RNAi and CRISPR-Cas gene regulation systems. Although it is generally believed that type 3 Pol III promoters use a defined transcription start site (+1 position), most man-made promoter constructs contain local sequence alterations of which the impact on transcription efficiency and initiation accuracy is not known. For three human type 3 Pol III promoters (7SK, U6, and H1), we demonstrated that the nucleotides around the +1 position affect both the transcriptional efficiency and start site selection. Human 7SK and U6 promoters with A or G at the +1 position efficiently produced small RNAs with a precise +1 start site. The human H1 promoter with +1A or G also efficiently produced small RNAs but from multiple start sites in the -3/-1 window. These results provide new insights for the design of vectors for accurate expression of designed small RNAs for research and therapeutic purposes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-287
Issue number5
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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