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Simian virus 40 enhancer increases RNA polymerase density within the linked gene.

Enhancers are regulatory DNA elements, usually about 200 base pairs (bp) long, which are able to stimulate transcription of linked genes in eukaryotic cells. This activation can be exerted over large distances, and from a position 5' or 3' to the gene. Enhancers have been identified in viral genomes and cellular genes. Using a transient expression assay, we have analysed transcription of the rabbit beta-globin gene and the thymidine kinase gene from herpes simplex virus with and without a simian virus 40 (SV40) enhancer. S1 nuclease mapping shows a high level of specific transcripts when the genes are linked to the enhancer. To determine whether this increased number of transcripts is due to a higher transcription rate, or perhaps to a shift from nonspecific to specific initiation, we have performed run-on transcription assays with isolated nuclei. Our results, presented here, demonstrate that the SV40 enhancer increases the RNA polymerase density within the linked gene. Therefore, enhancers apparently increase the rate of transcription initiation without influencing the specificity of initiation.[1]

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