We have examined the association, dissociation, and exchange of the 5S specific transcription factor (TFIIIA) with somatic- and oocyte-type 5S DNA. The factor associates faster with somatic than with oocyte 5S DNA, and the rate of complex formation is accelerated by vector DNA. Once formed, the TFIIIA-5S DNA complex is stable for greater than 4 h in the absence of free 5S DNA, and its dissociation is identical for somatic and for oocyte 5S DNA. In the presence of free 5S DNA, the factor transfers promptly from the complex to the free 5S DNA site. Unexpectedly, the direct exchange of factor between 5S DNA sites leads to proteolysis at the C-terminal arm of TFIIIA.

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