Architecture of an RNA polymerase II transcription pre-initiation complex

Kenji Murakami, Hans Elmlund, Nir Kalisman, David A. Bushnell, Christopher M Adams, Maia Azubel, Dominika Elmlund, Yael Levi-Kalisman, Xin Liu, Brian J. Gibbons, Michael Levitt, Roger D. Kornberg

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136 Citations (Scopus)


The protein density and arrangement of subunits of a complete, 32-protein, RNA polymerase II (pol II) transcription pre-initiation complex (PIC) were determined by means of cryogenic electron microscopy and a combination of chemical cross-linking and mass spectrometry. The PIC showed a marked division in two parts, one containing all the general transcription factors (GTFs) and the other pol II. Promoter DNA was associated only with the GTFs, suspended above the pol II cleft and not in contact with pol II. This structural principle of the PIC underlies its conversion to a transcriptionally active state; the PIC is poised for the formation of a transcription bubble and descent of the DNA into the pol II cleft.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1238724
Issue number6159
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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