RNA transcribed from genomic Xenopus laevis DNA by RNA polymerase III in HeLa-cell extract was found in discrete size classes and was transcribed from at least two different Xenopus repeat DNA species. Very little 5S ribosomal RNA was transcribed, contrasting with results obtained on transcription of genomic Xenopus DNA by Xenopus extract [Bogenhagen et al. (1982) Cell 28, 413-421]. The low transcription was not due to an inability to use 5S rDNA templates, since the cloned Xenopus 5S ribosomal gene and pseudogene were effective templates for RNA polymerase III in HeLa extract. RNA transcribed from genomic bovine DNA by RNA polymerase III in HeLa-cell cytosol extract consisted of 120-nucleotide RNA and a larger amount of heterogeneously sized RNA (180-650 nucleotides). Only a small portion of the 120-nucleotide RNA was 5S rRNA. Most of the 120-nucleotide RNA and the larger RNA species were transcribed from one bovine repeat DNA. Genes for 5S rRNA and bovine repeat DNA were transcribed roughly in proportion to their frequency in Bos, contrasting with results in a homologous system in which transcription of repeat genes is repressed [Furth (1985) Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 131, 551-556]. Bovine 5S rRNA genes appear to be concentrated on one DNA fragment obtained by restriction-enzyme-HindIII digestion of genomic bovine DNA.

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