The modulation of GLI2, an oncogenic transcription factor commonly upregulated in cancer, is in many cases not due to genetic defects, suggesting dysregulation through alternative mechanisms. The identity of these molecular events remains for the most part unknown. Here, we identified TFII-I as a novel repressor of GLI2 expression. Mapping experiments suggest that the INR region of the GLI2 promoter is necessary for GLI2 repression. ChIP studies showed that TFII-I binds to this INR. TFII-I knockdown decreased the binding of NELF-A, a component of the promoter–proximal pausing complex at this site, and enriched phosphorylated RNAPII serine 2 in the GLI2 gene body. Immunoprecipitation studies demonstrate TFII-I interaction with SPT5, another pausing complex component. TFII-I overexpression antagonized GLI2 induction by TGFβ, a known activator of GLI2 in cancer cells. TGFβ reduced endogenous TFII-I binding to the INR and increased RNAPII SerP2 in the gene body. We demonstrate that this regulatory mechanism is not exclusive of GLI2. TGFβ-induced genes CCR7, TGFβ1 and EGR3 showed similar decreased TFII-I and NELF-A INR binding and increased RNAPII SerP2 in the gene body post-TGFβ treatment. Together these results identify TFII-I as a novel repressor of a subset of TGFβ-responsive genes through the regulation of RNAPII pausing.
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