Transcription of the yeast CYC1 promoter fused to a sequence lacking guanosine residues provided a rapid, sensitive assay of initiation by RNA polymerase II in yeast extracts. Initiation was enhanced by yeast and mammalian activator proteins. The adenoviral major late promoter fused to the G-minus sequence was transcribed in yeast extracts with an efficiency comparable to that observed in HeLa extracts, showing mat promoters as well as transcription factors are functionally interchangeable across species. Initiation occurred at different sites, approximately 30 and 63 to 69 base pairs downstream of the TATA element of the adenoviral promoter in HeLa and yeast extracts, respectively, distances characteristic of initiation in the two systems in vivo. A component of the transcription system and not the promoter sequence determines the distance to the initiation site.
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