Functional importance of sequence in the stem-loop of a transcription terminator

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Science  22 Nov 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5035, pp. 1205-1207
DOI: 10.1126/science.1835546


Intrinsic transcription terminators of prokaryotes are distinguished by a common RNA motif: a stem-loop structure high in guanine and cytosine content, followed by multiple uridine residues. Models explaining intrinsic terminators postulate that the stem-loop sequence is necessary only to form structure. In the tR2 terminator of coliphage lambda, single-nucleotide changes reducing potential RNA stem stability eliminated tR2 activity, and a compensatory change that restored the stem structure restored terminator activity. However, multiple changes in the stem sequence that should have either maintained or increased stability reduced terminator activity. These results suggest that the ability of the stem-loop structure to signal transcription termination depends on sequence specificity and secondary structure.