Research Article

Structural Basis of Transcription: RNA Polymerase II at 2.8 Ångstrom Resolution

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Science  08 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5523, pp. 1863-1876
DOI: 10.1126/science.1059493

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Structures of a 10-subunit yeast RNA polymerase II have been derived from two crystal forms at 2.8 and 3.1 angstrom resolution. Comparison of the structures reveals a division of the polymerase into four mobile modules, including a clamp, shown previously to swing over the active center. In the 2.8 angstrom structure, the clamp is in an open state, allowing entry of straight promoter DNA for the initiation of transcription. Three loops extending from the clamp may play roles in RNA unwinding and DNA rewinding during transcription. A 2.8 angstrom difference Fourier map reveals two metal ions at the active site, one persistently bound and the other possibly exchangeable during RNA synthesis. The results also provide evidence for RNA exit in the vicinity of the carboxyl-terminal repeat domain, coupling synthesis to RNA processing by enzymes bound to this domain.

  • * Present address: Institute of Biochemistry, Gene Center, University of Munich, 81377 Munich, Germany.

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

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