The role of RNA polymerase σ subunit in promoter-independent initiation of transcription

Nikolay Zenkin, Konstantin Severinov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In bacteria, initiation of transcription depends on the RNA polymerase σ subunit, which brings catalytically proficient RNA polymerase core to promoters by binding to specific DNA elements located upstream of the transcription start point. Here, we study σ-dependent synthesis of a transcript that is used to prime replication of the single-stranded genome of bacteriophage M13. We show that, in this system, σ plays no role in DNA recognition, which is accomplished solely through RNA polymerase core interaction with DNA downstream of the transcription start point. However, σ is required for full-sized transcript synthesis by allowing RNA polymerase core to escape into productive elongation. RNA polymerase σ may play a similar role during replication primer synthesis in other bacterial mobile elements whose life cycle involves a single-stranded DNA stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4396-4400
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes


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