Winter, A. G., Sourvinos, G., Allison, Simon J., Tosh, K., Scott, P. H., Spandidos, D. A. and White, R. J. (2000) RNA polymerase III transcription factor TFIIIC2 is overexpressed in ovarian tumors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97 (23). pp. 12619-12624. ISSN 0027-8424

Most transformed cells display abnormally high levels of RNA polymerase (pol) III transcripts. Although the full significance of this is unclear, it may be fundamental because healthy cells use two key tumor suppressors to restrain pol III activity. We present the first evidence that a pol III transcription factor is overexpressed in tumors. This factor, TFIIIC2, is a histone acetyltransferase that is required for synthesis of most pol III products, including tRNA and 5S rRNA. TFIIIC2 is a complex of five polypeptides, and mRNAs encoding each of these subunits are overexpressed in human ovarian carcinomas; this may explain the elevated TFIIIC2 activity that is found consistently in the tumors. Deregulation in these cancers is unlikely to be a secondary response to rapid proliferation, because there is little or no change in TFIIIC2 mRNA levels when actively cycling cells are compared with growth-arrested cells in culture. Using purified factors, we show that raising the level of TFIIIC2 is sufficient to stimulate pol III transcription in ovarian cell extracts. The data suggest that overexpression of TFIIIC2 contributes to the abnormal abundance of pol III transcripts in ovarian tumors.