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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2004 Feb;14(1):10-20.

Catabolite activator protein: DNA binding and transcription activation.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Rutgers University, 610 Taylor Road, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Recently determined structures of the Escherichia coli catabolite activator protein (CAP) in complex with DNA, and in complex with the RNA polymerase alpha subunit C-terminal domain (alphaCTD) and DNA, have yielded insights into how CAP binds DNA and activates transcription. Comparison of multiple structures of CAP-DNA complexes has revealed the contributions of direct and indirect readout to DNA binding by CAP. The structure of the CAP-alphaCTD-DNA complex has provided the first structural description of interactions between a transcription activator and its functional target within the general transcription machinery. Using the structure of the CAP-alphaCTD-DNA complex, the structure of an RNA polymerase-DNA complex, and restraints from biophysical, biochemical and genetic experiments, it has been possible to construct detailed three-dimensional models of intact class I and class II transcription activation complexes.

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