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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2017 Dec;47:60-66. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Jun 15.

Towards a mechanistic understanding of core promoter recognition from cryo-EM studies of human TFIID.

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Molecular and Cell Biology Department and QB3 Institute, UC Berkeley, CA, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UC Berkeley, CA, USA; Molecular Biophysics and Integrative Bio-Imaging Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, CA, USA. Electronic address:
Biophysics Graduate Group, UC Berkeley, CA, USA.


TFIID is a critical component of the eukaryotic transcription pre-initiation complex (PIC) required for the recruitment of RNA Pol II to the start site of protein-coding genes. Within the PIC, TFIID's role is to recognize and bind core promoter sequences and recruit the rest of the PIC components. Due to its size and its conformational complexity, TFIID poses a serious challenge for structural characterization. The small amounts of purified TFIID that can be obtained by present methods of purification from endogenous sources has limited structural studies to cryo-EM visualization, which requires very small amounts of sample. Previous cryo-EM studies have shed light on how the extreme conformational flexibility of TFIID is involved in core promoter DNA binding. Recent progress in cryo-EM methodology has facilitated a parallel progress in the study of human TFIID, leading to an improvement in resolution and the identification of the structural elements in the complex directly involved in DNA interaction. While many questions remain unanswered, the present structural knowledge of human TFIID suggests a mechanism for the sequential engagement with different core promoter sequences and how it could be influenced by regulatory factors.

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