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EMBO J. 1997 May 15;16(10):2927-36.

Factor requirements for transcription in the Archaeon Sulfolobus shibatae.

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Wellcome/CRC Institute, and Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, UK.


Archaea (archaebacteria) constitute a domain of life that is distinct from Bacteria (eubacteria) and Eucarya (eukaryotes). Although archaeal cells share many morphological features with eubacteria, their transcriptional apparatus is more akin to eukaryotic RNA polymerases I, II and III than it is to eubacterial transcription systems. Thus, in addition to possessing a 10 subunit RNA polymerase and a homologue of the TATA-binding protein (TBP), Archaea possess a polypeptide termed TFB that is homologous to eukaryotic TFIIB. Here, we investigate the factor requirements for transcription of several promoters of the archaeon Sulfolobus shibatae and its associated virus SSV. Through in vitro transcription and immunodepletion, we demonstrate that S. shibatae TBP, TFB and RNA polymerase are not complexed tightly with one another and that each is required for efficient transcription of all promoters tested. Furthermore, full transcription is restored by supplementing respective depleted extracts with recombinant TBP or TFB, indicating that TBP-associated factors or TFB-associated factors are not required. Indeed, gel-filtration suggests that Sulfolobus TBP and TFB are not associated stably with other proteins. Finally, all promoters analysed are transcribed accurately and efficiently in an in vitro system comprising recombinant TBP and TFB, together with essentially homogeneous preparation of RNA polymerase. Transcription in Archaea is therefore fundamentally homologous to that in eukaryotes, although factor requirements appear to be much less complex.

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