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Mol Cell. 2005 Mar 18;17(6):817-29.

Conversion of active promoter-RNA polymerase complexes into inactive promoter bound complexes in E. coli by the transcription effector, ppGpp.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York 14214, USA.


Guanosine tetraphosphate (ppGpp) is a signal of nutritional stress that regulates transcription. An RNA polymerase rudder mutant rpoC (Delta 312-315) is found to suppress ppGpp deficiency phenotypes by restoring both negative and positive activities of promoter fusions in vivo, as if ppGpp were present. Measurements of defects in transcription of the PargT tRNA promoter with mutant RNA polymerase reveal that the mutant enzyme quantitatively mimics the presence of added ppGpp. DNaseI footprints and mobility shifts under RNA polymerization conditions reveal that the promoter-specific transcription defect of the mutant enzyme can be ascribed to the presence of inactive dead-end promoter complexes with features similar to those of a stable closed complex. We propose that formation of such inactive complexes represents an alternative explanation of "stringent RNA polymerase" mutant behavior to those currently published, and it represents a newly discovered mode of action of ppGpp.

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