Archaeal RNA polymerase and transcription regulation

Sung Hoon Jun, Matthew J. Reichlen, Momoko Tajiri, Katsuhiko S. Murakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


To elucidate the mechanism of transcription by cellular RNA polymerases (RNAPs), high-resolution X-ray crystal structures together with structure-guided biochemical, biophysical, and genetics studies are essential. The recently solved X-ray crystal structures of archaeal RNAP allow a structural comparison of the transcription machinery among all three domains of life. The archaea were once thought of closely related to bacteria, but they are now considered to be more closely related to the eukaryote at the molecular level than bacteria. According to these structures, the archaeal transcription apparatus, which includes RNAP and general transcription factors (GTFs), is similar to the eukaryotic transcription machinery. Yet, the transcription regulators, activators and repressors, encoded by archaeal genomes are closely related to bacterial factors. Therefore, archaeal transcription appears to possess an intriguing hybrid of eukaryotic-type transcription apparatus and bacterial-like regulatory mechanisms. Elucidating the transcription mechanism in archaea, which possesses a combination of bacterial and eukaryotic transcription mechanisms that are commonly regarded as separate and mutually exclusive, can provide data that will bring basic transcription mechanisms across all life forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Reviews in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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