Transcription of the yeast GAL1 and GAL10 genes is induced by growth on galactose. Using the technique of photofootprinting in vivo, we previously documented equivalent transcription-dependent footprints within the putative "TATA" elements of both genes. To explore the functional significance of these observations, we created a 3-base-pair substitution mutation within the GAL1 promoter TATA element, which disrupted the ATATAA consensus sequence but left intact the photomodification targets. The mutation reduced galactose-induced RNA levels by a factor of 100. The mutant promoter no longer displayed the characteristic TATA sequence footprint, supporting the hypothesis that transcription activation involves the binding of a TATA box factor. We also observed a collection of transcription-correlated alterations in the modification pattern at sites between the UASG and the GAL1 TATA element, within sequences that are not required for inducible transcription. These patterns, characteristic of the induced wild-type GAL1 gene, were still galactose inducible with the TATA mutant GAl1 promoter, despite the low level of transcription from this promoter. We conclude that the GAL4-dependent protein/DNA structure responsible for the altered pattern within nonessential sequences is therefore not strictly coupled to an active TATA element or to high levels of expression. Nonetheless, the patterns probably reflect a stable protein-dependent structure that accompanies assembly of the transcription initiation complex
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