Research Article

Structural insights into preinitiation complex assembly on core promoters

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Science  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6541, eaba8490
DOI: 10.1126/science.aba8490

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Assembling for transcription initiation

Eukaryotic transcription initiation by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) requires the assembly of a preinitiation complex (PIC) on core promoters. The binding of TATA box–binding protein (TBP) to the TATA box promoter has been thought to be a general rule in PIC assembly and transcription initiation. However, most coding genes lack a TATA box, and nearly all Pol II–mediated gene transcription requires the TBP-containing multisubunit complex transcription factor IID (TFIID). Chen et al. determined the structures of human TFIID-based PIC in sequential assembly states and revealed that TFIID supports distinct PIC assembly on TATA-containing and TATA-lacking promoters. The finding resolves the long-standing mystery of how one set of general transcription machinery initiates transcription on diverse promoters.

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