Genome Res. 2010 Apr 22. [Epub ahead of print]
Center for Integrative Genomics (CIG), Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne 1015, Switzerland;
Our view of the RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription machinery in mammalian cells arises mostly from studies of the RN5S (5S) gene, the Ad2 VAI gene, and the RNU6 (U6) gene, as paradigms for genes with type 1, 2, and 3 promoters. Recruitment of Pol III onto these genes requires prior binding of well-characterized transcription factors. Technical limitations in dealing with repeated genomic units, typically found at mammalian Pol III genes, have so far hampered genome-wide studies of the Pol III transcription machinery and transcriptome. We have localized, genome-wide, Pol III and some of its transcription factors. Our results reveal broad usage of the known Pol III transcription machinery and define a minimal Pol III transcriptome in dividing IMR90hTert fibroblasts. This transcriptome consists of some 500 actively transcribed genes including a few dozen candidate novel genes, of which we confirmed nine as Pol III transcription units by additional methods. It does not contain any of the microRNA genes previously described as transcribed by Pol III, but reveals two other microRNA genes, MIR886 (hsa-mir-886) and MIR1975 (RNY5, hY5, hsa-mir-1975), which are genuine Pol III transcription units.