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J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 14;272(11):7201-10.

Domain organization of Escherichia coli transcript cleavage factors GreA and GreB.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, State University of New York, Health Science Center at Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York 11203, USA.


The GreA and GreB proteins of Escherichia coli induce cleavage of the nascent transcript in ternary elongation complexes of RNA polymerase. Gre factors are presumed to have two biologically important and evolutionarily conserved functions: the suppression of elongation arrest and the enhancement of transcription fidelity. A three-dimensional structure of GreB was generated by homology modeling on the basis of the known crystal structure of GreA. Both factors display similar overall architecture and surface charge distribution, with characteristic C-terminal globular and N-terminal coiled-coil domains. One major difference between the two factors is the "basic patch" on the surface of the coiled-coil domain, which is much larger in GreB than in GreA. In both proteins, a site near the basic patch cross-links to the 3' terminus of RNA in the ternary transcription complex. GreA/GreB hybrid molecules were constructed by genetic engineering in which the N-terminal domain of one protein was fused to the C-terminal domain of the other. In the hybrid molecules, both the coiled-coil and the globular domains contribute to specific binding of Gre factors to RNA polymerase, whereas the antiarrest activity and the GreA or GreB specificity of transcript cleavage is determined by the N-terminal domain. These results implicate the basic patch of the N-terminal coiled-coil domain as an important functional element responsible for the interactions with nascent transcript and determining the size of the RNA fragment to be excised during the course of the cleavage reaction.

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