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Cell. 1996 Aug 9;86(3):495-501.

Base-specific recognition of the nontemplate strand of promoter DNA by E. coli RNA polymerase.

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Section of Biochemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology Cornell University Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


RNA polymerase recognizes its promoters through base-specific interaction between defined segments of DNA and the sigma subunit of the enzyme. This interaction leads to separation of base pairs and exposure of the template strand for RNA synthesis. We show that base-specific recognition by the sigma 70 holoenzyme in this process involves primarily nontemplate strand bases in the -10 promoter region. We suggest that melting involves the persistence of these contacts as the bound duplex (closed) form is converted to the single-stranded (open) form of the enzyme-promoter complex.

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