PerspectiveBiochemistry

Have Your PIC!

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Science  08 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6159, pp. 706-707
DOI: 10.1126/science.1246170

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Summary

RNA polymerase II (Pol II), the enzyme that transcribes protein-coding genes, requires additional factors to accurately initiate transcription from promoter-directed start sites. These general transcription factors (GTFs) assemble with Pol II into a pre-initiation complex (PIC) that is a key intermediate in the transcription activation pathway (1). The main role of the GTFs is to accurately position and orient Pol II on the DNA template and to facilitate access of the catalytic site to the transcribed strand. Recent structural studies, including the cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) reconstruction of the yeast PIC by Murakami et al. on page 709 of this issue (2), provide detailed views into the structural organization of this large complex. These studies will pave the way for a more complete understanding of how gene expression is regulated.

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