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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Equilibrium and stopped-flow kinetic studies of interaction between T7 RNA polymerase and its promoters measured by protein and 2-aminopurine fluorescence changes.

The mechanism of bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase binding to its promoter DNA was investigated using stopped-flow and equilibrium methods. To measure the kinetics of protein-DNA interactions in real time, changes in tryptophan fluorescence in the polymerase and 2-aminopurine (2-AP) fluorescence in the promoter DNA upon binary complex formation were used as probes. The protein fluorescence changes measured conformational changes in the polymerase whereas the fluorescence changes of 2-AP base, substituted in place of dA in the initiation region (-4 to +4), measured structural changes in the promoter DNA, such as DNA melting. The kinetic studies, carried out in the absence of the initiating nucleotide, are consistent with a two-step DNA binding mechanism, [formula: see text] where the RNA polymerase forms an initial weak EDa complex rapidly with an equilibrium association constant K1. The EDa complex then undergoes a conformational change to EDb, wherein RNA polymerase is specifically and tightly bound to the promoter DNA. Both the polymerase and the promoter DNA may undergo structural changes during this isomerization step. The isomerization of EDa to EDb is a fast step relative to the rate of transcription initiation and its rate does not limit transcription initiation. To understand how T7 RNA polymerase modulates its transcriptional efficiency at various promoters at the level of DNA binding, comparative studies with two natural T7 promoters, Phi10 and Phi3.8, were conducted. The results indicate that kinetics, the bimolecular rate constant of DNA binding, kon (K1k2), and the dissociation rate constant, koff (k-2), and thermodynamics, the equilibrium constants of the two steps (K1 and k2/k-2) both play a role in modulating the transcriptional efficiency at the level of DNA binding. Thus, the 2-fold lower kon, the 4-fold higher koff, and the 2-5-fold weaker equilibrium interactions together make Phi3.8 a weaker promoter relative to Phi10.[1]


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