PerspectiveMolecular Biology

Running the Red Light

Science  31 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5462, pp. 2437-2438
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5462.2437

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Molecular biologists have long wondered why RNA polymerase, the enzyme that transcribes the DNA template into RNA, travels with variable speed along the DNA. As Henri Buc explains in a Perspective, new findings show that RNA polymerase molecules have different intrinsic speeds: some are speed demons others are slow lorises ( Davenport et al.). The slower molecules are more likely to pause at pause sites and to irreversibly stop at terminator sequences resulting in a halt in transcription.