Paths to Activation of Transcription

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Science  14 Mar 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5306, pp. 1614
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5306.1614

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In bacteria, transcription—the synthesis of RNA from DNA—is carried out by the enzyme RNA polymerase, which binds to the start site of a gene, the promoter. Now two reports in this week's issue, Wyman (p. 1658) and Miller (p. 1655), show two ways that this complex can be triggered to start transcription, both by proteins that act to change the configuration of the RNA polymerase enzyme itself. In his Perspective, Geiduschek discusses these and other examples of transcriptional regulation, suggesting that each may act on the step in the transcription process in which the RNA polymerase-promoter complex is reconfigured in preparation for RNA synthesis.