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Structure and Function of RNA Polymerases and the Transcription Machineries

Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI,volume 83)

Abstract

In all living organisms, the flow of genetic information is a two-step process: first DNA is transcribed into RNA, which is subsequently used as template for protein synthesis during translation. In bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes, transcription is carried out by multi-subunit RNA polymerases (RNAPs) sharing a conserved architecture of the RNAP core. RNAPs catalyse the highly accurate polymerisation of RNA from NTP building blocks, utilising DNA as template, being assisted by transcription factors during the initiation, elongation and termination phase of transcription. The complexity of this highly dynamic process is reflected in the intricate network of protein-protein and protein-nucleic acid interactions in transcription complexes and the substantial conformational changes of the RNAP as it progresses through the transcription cycle.

In this chapter, we will first briefly describe the early work that led to the discovery of multisubunit RNAPs. We will then discuss the three-dimensional organisation of RNAPs from the bacterial, archaeal and eukaryotic domains of life, highlighting the conserved nature, but also the domain-specific features of the transcriptional apparatus. Another section will focus on transcription factors and their role in regulating the RNA polymerase throughout the different phases of the transcription cycle. This includes a discussion of the molecular mechanisms and dynamic events that govern transcription initiation, elongation and termination.

Keywords

  • RNA polymerase
  • Transcription
  • Transcription factors
  • Transcription cycle

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Acknowledgements

The authors apologise to those whose work could not be discussed owing to space limitation. The authors would like to thank Klaus Grasser for critical reading of the manuscript. We thank Eva Nogales for sharing and discussing unpublished information and for providing images used for the preparation of Fig. 9.3. We would like to thank the members of the Tschochner/Griesenbeck and Grohmann laboratory for their courage and hard work. D.G. would like to thank Finn Werner for passing on his enthusiasm for transcription and the many fruitful discussions.

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Correspondence to Dina Grohmann .

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Griesenbeck, J., Tschochner, H., Grohmann, D. (2017). Structure and Function of RNA Polymerases and the Transcription Machineries. In: Harris, J., Marles-Wright, J. (eds) Macromolecular Protein Complexes. Subcellular Biochemistry, vol 83. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46503-6_9

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