Research Article

Mechanism of Intrinsic Transcription Termination and Antitermination

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Science  23 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5414, pp. 611-615
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5414.611

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Gene expression is modulated by regulatory elements that influence transcription elongation by RNA polymerase: terminators that disrupt the elongation complex and release RNA, and regulators that overcome termination signals. RNA release from Escherichia coli RNA polymerase can be induced by a complementary oligonucleotide that replaces the upstream half of the RNA hairpin stem of intrinsic terminator transcripts, implying that RNA hairpins act by extracting RNA from the transcription complex. A transcription antiterminator inhibits this activity of oligonucleotides and therefore protects the elongation complex from destabilizing attacks on the emerging transcript. These effects illuminate the structure of the complex and the mechanism of transcription termination.

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