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J Biol Chem. 1998 May 22;273(21):13307-12.

Ada protein-RNA polymerase sigma subunit interaction and alpha subunit-promoter DNA interaction are necessary at different steps in transcription initiation at the Escherichia coli Ada and aidB promoters.

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  • 1School of Biochemistry, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom.


The methylated form of the Ada protein (meAda) binds the ada and aidB promoters between 60 and 40 base pairs upstream from the transcription start and activates transcription of the Escherichia coli ada and aidB genes. This region is also a binding site for the alpha subunit of RNA polymerase and resembles the rrnB P1 UP element in A/T content and location relative to the core promoter. In this report, we show that deletion of the C-terminal domain of the alpha subunit severely decreases meAda-independent binding of RNA polymerase to ada and aidB, affecting transcription initiation at these promoters. We provide evidence that meAda activates transcription by direct interaction with the C-terminal domain of RNA polymerase sigma70 subunit (amino acids 574-613). Several negatively charged residues in the sigma70 C-terminal domain are important for transcription activation by meAda; in particular, a glutamic acid to valine substitution at position 575 has a dramatic effect on meAda-dependent transcription. Based on these observations, we propose that the role of the alpha subunit at ada and aidB is to allow initial binding of RNA polymerase to the promoters. However, transcription initiation is dependent on meAda-sigma70 interaction.

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