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Eukaryotic transcription factor-DNA complexes.

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1
Laboratories of Molecular Biophysics, Rockefeller University, New York, NY 10021, USA.

Abstract

Eukaryotes have three distinct RNA polymerases that catalyze transcription of nuclear genes. RNA polymerase II is responsible for transcribing nuclear genes encoding the messenger RNAs and several small nuclear RNAs. Like RNA polymerases I and III, polymerase II cannot recognize its target promoter directly and initiate transcription without accessory factors. Instead, this large multisubunit enzyme relies on general transcription factors and transcriptional activators and coactivators to regulate transcription from class II promoters. X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy have been used to study complexes of general transcription factors and transcriptional activators with their specific DNA targets. This work has provided important structural insights into transcription initiation by polymerase II and the more general problem of DNA sequence recognition.

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