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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2009 Dec;19(6):691-700. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Elongation by RNA polymerase: a race through roadblocks.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, 402B KAUL Genetics Building, 720 20th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294, United States.


Transcription is the first and most regulated step of gene expression. RNA polymerase (RNAP) is the heart of the transcription machinery and a major target for numerous regulatory pathways in living cells. The crystal structures of transcription complexes formed by bacterial RNAP in various configurations have provided a number of breakthroughs in understanding basic, universal mechanisms of transcription and have revealed regulatory 'hot spots' in RNAP that serve as targets and anchors for auxiliary transcription factors. In combination with biochemical analyses, these structures allow feasible modeling of the regulatory complexes for which experimental structural data are still missing. The available structural information suggests a number of general mechanistic predictions that provide a reference point and direction for future studies of transcription regulation.

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