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Nature. 2002 Jun 13;417(6890):712-9. Epub 2002 May 8.

Crystal structure of a bacterial RNA polymerase holoenzyme at 2.6 A resolution.

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Cellular Signaling Laboratory, RIKEN Harima Institute at Spring-8, 1-1-1 Kouto, Mikazuki-cho, Sayo, Hyogo 679-5148, Japan.


In bacteria, the binding of a single protein, the initiation factor sigma, to a multi-subunit RNA polymerase core enzyme results in the formation of a holoenzyme, the active form of RNA polymerase essential for transcription initiation. Here we report the crystal structure of a bacterial RNA polymerase holoenzyme from Thermus thermophilus at 2.6 A resolution. In the structure, two amino-terminal domains of the sigma subunit form a V-shaped structure near the opening of the upstream DNA-binding channel of the active site cleft. The carboxy-terminal domain of sigma is near the outlet of the RNA-exit channel, about 57 A from the N-terminal domains. The extended linker domain forms a hairpin protruding into the active site cleft, then stretching through the RNA-exit channel to connect the N- and C-terminal domains. The holoenzyme structure provides insight into the structural organization of transcription intermediate complexes and into the mechanism of transcription initiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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