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Science. 2002 Feb 1;295(5556):855-7.

A role for interaction of the RNA polymerase flap domain with the sigma subunit in promoter recognition.

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Waksman Institute, Department of Genetics, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


In bacteria, promoter recognition depends on the RNA polymerase sigma subunit, which combines with the catalytically proficient RNA polymerase core to form the holoenzyme. The major class of bacterial promoters is defined by two conserved elements (the -10 and -35 elements, which are 10 and 35 nucleotides upstream of the initiation point, respectively) that are contacted by sigma in the holoenzyme. We show that recognition of promoters of this class depends on the "flexible flap" domain of the RNA polymerase beta subunit. The flap interacts with conserved region 4 of sigma and triggers a conformational change that moves region 4 into the correct position for interaction with the -35 element. Because the flexible flap is evolutionarily conserved, this domain may facilitate promoter recognition by specificity factors in eukaryotes as well.

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