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J Mol Biol. 1998 Dec 18;284(5):1353-65.

Identification of a contact site for different transcription activators in region 4 of the Escherichia coli RNA polymerase sigma70 subunit.

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Department of Stomatology, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 94143, USA.


The sigma subunit of RNA polymerase orchestrates basal transcription by first binding to core RNA polymerase and then recognizing promoters. Using a series of 16 alanine-substitution mutations, we show that residues in a narrow region of Escherichia coli sigma70 (590 to 603) are involved in transcription activation by a mutationally altered CRP derivative, FNR and AraC. Homology modeling of region 4 of sigma70 to the closely related NarL or 434 Cro proteins, suggests that the five basic residues implicated in activation are either in the C terminus of a long recognition helix that includes residues recognizing the -35 hexamer region of the promoter, or in the subsequent loop, and are ideally positioned to permit interaction with activators. The only substitution that has a significant effect on activator-independent transcription is at R603, indicating that this residue of sigma70 may play a distinct role in transcription initiation.

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