Transcription in vivo and in vitro of the histone-encoding gene hmfB from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Methanothermus fervidus.J Bacteriol. 1992 Jun; 174(11):3508-13.JB
Immediately upstream of the hmfB gene, in a DNA fragment cloned from Methanothermus fervidus, are two identical tandemly repeated copies of a 73-bp sequence that contain the sequence 5'TTTATATA, which conforms precisely to the consensus TATA box element proposed for methanogen promoters. By using this duplicated region as the template DNA and a cell-free transcription system derived from Methanococcus thermolithotrophicus, transcription in vitro was found to initiate at two identical sites 73 bp apart, each 25 bp downstream from a TATA box, thus providing strong evidence for the functional conservation of this transcriptional signal in two phylogenetically very diverse methanogens. Transcription of the hmfB gene in vivo in M. fervidus was found to occur at only one of these sites, and consistent with this observation, recloning and sequencing of this intergenic region after its amplification by the polymerase chain reaction demonstrated that the genome of M. fervidus contains only one copy of the 73-bp sequence upstream of the hmfB gene. Since the second copy of the 73-bp sequence, presumably generated artifactually during the original hmfB cloning, functioned equally well as a promoter in the M. thermolithotrophicus transcription system, all information needed by the heterologous RNA polymerase to initiate transcription accurately in vitro must be present within this sequence. The hmfB gene encodes HMf-2, one of the two subunits of HMf, an abundant DNA binding protein in M. fervidus which binds to DNA molecules in vitro, forming nucleosomelike structures. Cell-free transcription was inhibited by adding HMf or eucaryotic core histones at protein-to-DNA mass ratios of 0.3:1 and 1:1, respectively, whereas the archael histonelike protein HTa from Thermoplasma acidophilum inhibited transcription in vitro only at much higher protein-to-DNA mass ratios and the bacterial histonelike protein HU from Escherichia coli had no detectable effect on transcription.