Structural basis of the mycobacterial stress-response RNA polymerase auto-inhibition via oligomerization

Zakia Morichaud, Stefano Trapani, Rishi K. Vishwakarma, Laurent Chaloin, Corinne Lionne, Joséphine Lai-Kee-Him, Patrick Bron, Konstantin Brodolin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Self-assembly of macromolecules into higher-order symmetric structures is fundamental for the regulation of biological processes. Higher-order symmetric structure self-assembly by the gene expression machinery, such as bacterial DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RNAP), has never been reported before. Here, we show that the stress-response σB factor from the human pathogen, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, induces the RNAP holoenzyme oligomerization into a supramolecular complex composed of eight RNAP units. Cryo-electron microscopy revealed a pseudo-symmetric structure of the RNAP octamer in which RNAP protomers are captured in an auto-inhibited state and display an open-clamp conformation. The structure shows that σB is sequestered by the RNAP flap and clamp domains. The transcriptional activator RbpA prevented octamer formation by promoting the initiation-competent RNAP conformation. Our results reveal that a non-conserved region of σ is an allosteric controller of transcription initiation and demonstrate how basal transcription factors can regulate gene expression by modulating the RNAP holoenzyme assembly and hibernation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number484
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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