Characterization of structural features important for T7 RNAP elongation complex stability reveals competing complex conformations and a role for the non-template strand in RNA displacement

Vijaya Gopal, Luis G. Brieba, Richard Guajardo, William T. McAllister, Rui Sousa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

We have characterized the roles of the phage T7 RNA polymerase (RNAP) thumb subdomain and the RNA binding activity of the N-terminal domain in elongation complex (EC) stability by evaluating how disrupting these structures affects the dissociation rates of halted ECs. Our results reveal distinct roles for these elements in EC stabilization. On supercoiled or partially single-stranded templates the enzyme with a deletion of the thumb subdomain is exceptionally unstable. However, on linear duplex templates the polymerase which has been proteolytically cleaved within the N-terminal domain is the most unstable. The differences in the effects of these RNAP modifications on the stability of ECs on the different templates appear to be due to differences in EC structure: on the linear duplex templates the RNA is properly displaced from the DNA, but on the supercoiled or partially single-stranded templates an extended RNA:DNA hybrid makes a larger contribution to the conformational state of the EC. The halted EC can therefore exist either in a conformation in which the RNA is displaced from the DNA and forms an interaction with the RNAP, or in a conformation in which a more extended RNA:DNA hybrid is present and the RNA:RNAP interaction is less extensive. The partitioning between these competing conformations appears to be a function of the energetics of template reannealing and the relative strengths of the RNA:RNAP interaction and the RNA:DNA hybrid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-431
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Volume290
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 9 1999

Keywords

  • Elongation complex
  • Processivity
  • RNA:DNA hybrid
  • T7 RNA polymerase
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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