Cryo-EM reveals structural dynamics of RNAP-DNA interactions during transcription initiation


The process of transcription, where DNA is copied into RNA by RNA polymerase (RNAP), is a crucial step in gene expression, but the exact mechanism of how RNAP opens the transcription bubble is largely unknown. A new study in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology captures E. coli RNAP in the act of opening the bubble for the first time, shedding light on the fundamental mechanisms of transcription. The study reveals the sequence of events showing how RNAP interacts with DNA to form a stable transcription bubble and proposes that the rate-limiting step in transcription may be the positioning of the DNA template strand within the RNAP enzyme’s active site. This breakthrough was made possible through new technology that allows real-time visualization of molecular events happening within milliseconds, which opens up opportunities for further research to better understand transcription processes.

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