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Fundamental Discovery About How Gene Expression Functions in Bacteria

Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered and characterized a general mechanism that controls transcription elongation in bacteria. The mechanism, described in the April 23 issue of Science, relies on physical cooperation between a moving ribosome and RNA polymerase (RNAP) that allows for a precise adjustment of the transcriptional yield in response to translational needs. The study could lead to the development of new ways to interfere with bacterial gene expression and serve as a new target for antimicrobial therapy.

"The finding that the active ribosome controls the rate of transcription at every protein-coding gene and under various growth conditions was quite unexpected -- and the results are far reaching," says Evgeny Nudler, PhD, the Julie Wilson Anderson Professor of Biochemistry at NYU Langone Medical Center and lead author of the study. "It appears that the ribosome not just moves behind RNAP while translating the nascent transcript, but it is actually able to 'push' the paused or arrested RNAP molecules forward, thereby accelerating RNAP speed and also helping RNAP to traverse road blocks imposed by DNA binding proteins."
 
 

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