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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Nov;54(3):692-701.

Axiom of determining transcription start points by RNA polymerase in Escherichia coli.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4264, USA.


To investigate the determining factors in the selection of the transcription start points (tsp) by RNA polymerase of Escherichia coli, we systematically deleted or substituted single base pairs (bps) at 25 putative critical positions in the two extended -10 promoters, P1 and P2, of the gal operon. These changes extend downstream from -24 to +1 of the P1 promoter. In vitro transcription assays using supercoiled DNA templates revealed a preference for a purine in the non-template strand for tsp in both promoters. The optimal tsp is the 11th bp counting downstream from the -10 position. A single bp deletion anywhere from -10 to +1 switched the tsp to the next available purine 2-3 bp downstream on the non-template strand whereas deleting a single bp at position from -24 to -11 did not affect the tsp. The nature of the 10 bp sequence of the -10 to -1 region, while affecting promoter strength, did not influence tsp. The cAMP-CRP complex, which stimulates P1 and represses P2, did not affect the tsp selection process. The rules of tsp selection by RNA polymerase containing sigma70 in gal and pyr promoters discussed here may be applicable to others.

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