Single-Molecule Study of Transcriptional Pausing and Arrest by E. coli RNA Polymerase

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Science  31 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5462, pp. 2497-2500
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5462.2497

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Using an optical-trap/flow-control video microscopy technique, we followed transcription by single molecules ofEscherichia coli RNA polymerase in real time over long template distances. These studies reveal that RNA polymerase molecules possess different intrinsic transcription rates and different propensities to pause and stop. The data also show that reversible pausing is a kinetic intermediate between normal elongation and the arrested state. The conformational metastability of RNA polymerase revealed by this single-molecule study of transcription has direct implications for the mechanisms of gene regulation in both bacteria and eukaryotes.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: carlos{at}

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