Researchers Capture Never-Before-Seen View of Gene Transcription

Depiction of an intermediate complex that forms when RNA polymerase encounters DNA

Every living cell transcribes DNA into RNA. This process begins when an enzyme called RNA polymerase (RNAP) clamps onto DNA. Within a few hundred milliseconds, the DNA double helix unwinds to form a node known as the transcription bubble, so that one exposed DNA strand can be copied into a complementary RNA strand. How RNAP accomplishes this feat is largely unknown. A snapshot of RNAP in the act of opening that bubble would provide a wealth of information, but the process happens too quickly for current technology to easily capture visualizations of these structures. Now, a new study, published July1, 2024 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, describes E. coli RNAP in the act of opening the transcription bubble.

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