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Mol Microbiol. 2007 Sep;65(6):1395-404. Epub 2007 Aug 14.

Structure and function of archaeal RNA polymerases.

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University College London, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Darwin Building, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


RNA polymerases (RNAPs) are essential to all life forms and therefore deserve our special attention. The archaeal RNAP is closely related to eukaryotic RNAPII in terms of subunit composition and architecture, promoter elements and basal transcription factors required for the initiation and elongation phase of transcription. RNAPs of this class are large and sophisticated enzymes that interact in a complex manner with DNA/RNA scaffolds, substrates NTPs and a plethora of transcription factors - interactions that often result in an allosteric regulation of RNAP activity. The 12 subunits of RNAP play distinct roles including RNAP assembly and stability, catalysis and functional contacts with exogenous factors. Due to the availability of structural information of RNAPs at high-resolution and wholly recombinant archaeal transcription systems, we are beginning to understand the molecular mechanisms of archaeal RNAPs and transcription in great detail.

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