NusG controls transcription pausing and RNA polymerase translocation throughout the Bacillus subtilis genome

Alexander V. Yakhnin, Peter C. FitzGerald, Carl McIntosh, Helen Yakhnin, Maria Kireeva, Joshua Turek-Herman, Zachary F. Mandell, Mikhail Kashlev, Paul Babitzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Transcription is punctuated by RNA polymerase (RNAP) pausing. These pauses provide time for diverse regulatory events that can modulate gene expression. Transcription elongation factors dramatically affect RNAP pausing in vitro, but the genome-wide role of such factors on pausing has not been examined. Using native elongating transcript sequencing followed by RNase digestion (RNET-seq), we analyzed RNAP pausing in Bacillus subtilis genomewide and identified an extensive role of NusG in pausing. This universally conserved transcription elongation factor is known as Spt5 in archaeal and eukaryotic organisms. B. subtilis NusG shifts RNAP to the posttranslocation register and induces pausing at 1,600 sites containing a consensus TTNTTT motif in the nontemplate DNA strand within the paused transcription bubble. The TTNTTT motif is necessary but not sufficient for NusG-dependent pausing. Approximately one-fourth of these pause sites were localized to untranslated regions and could participate in posttranscription initiation control of gene expression as was previously shown for tlrB and the trpEDCFBA operon. Most of the remaining pause sites were identified in protein-coding sequences. NusG-dependent pausing was confirmed for all 10 pause sites that we tested in vitro. Putative pause hairpins were identified for 225 of the 342 strongest NusGdependent pause sites, and some of these hairpins were shown to function in vitro. NusG-dependent pausing in the ribD riboswitch provides time for cotranscriptional binding of flavin mononucleotide, which decreases the concentration required for termination upstream of the ribD coding sequence. Our phylogenetic analysis implicates NusG-dependent pausing as a widespread mechanism in bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21628-21636
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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