TFIIIC bound DNA elements in nuclear organization and insulation.

Biochimica et biophysica acta

PubMedID: 23000638

Kirkland JG, Raab JR, Kamakaka RT. TFIIIC bound DNA elements in nuclear organization and insulation. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013;1829(3-4):418-24.
tRNA genes (tDNAs) have been known to have barrier insulator function in budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for over a decade. tDNAs also play a role in genome organization by clustering at sites in the nucleus and both of these functions are dependent on the transcription factor TFIIIC. More recently TFIIIC bound sites devoid of pol III, termed Extra-TFIIIC sites (ETC) have been identified in budding yeast and these sites also function as insulators and affect genome organization. Subsequent studies in Schizosaccharomyces pombe showed that TFIIIC bound sites were insulators and also functioned as Chromosome Organization Clamps (COC); tethering the sites to the nuclear periphery. Very recently studies have moved to mammalian systems where pol III genes and their associated factors have been investigated in both mouse and human cells. Short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs) that bind TFIIIC, function as insulator elements and tDNAs can also function as both enhancer - blocking and barrier insulators in these organisms. It was also recently shown that tDNAs cluster with other tDNAs and with ETCs but not with pol II transcribed genes. Intriguingly, TFIIIC is often found near pol II transcription start sites and it remains unclear what the consequences of TFIIIC based genomic organization are and what influence pol III factors have on pol II transcribed genes and vice versa. In this review we provide a comprehensive overview of the known data on pol III factors in insulation and genome organization and identify the many open questions that require further investigation. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Transcription by Odd Pols.