Abstract

Transcription requires that RNA polymerase binds to promoters buried in nonspecific sites on DNA. The search for promoters may be facilitated if the polymerase slides along the molecule of DNA. Single molecules of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase were visualized, and their movements on immobilized bacteriophage lambda and T7 DNAs were examined. Deviating from drifts by bulk flow, about 40 percent of the enzyme molecules moved along the extended DNA. The results provide direct evidence for sliding as a mechanism for relocation of the enzyme on DNA.