Structural basis of template strand deoxyuridine promoter recognition by a viral RNA polymerase

Alec Fraser, Maria L. Sokolova, Arina V. Drobysheva, Julia V. Gordeeva, Sergei Borukhov, John Jumper, Konstantin V. Severinov, Petr G. Leiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recognition of promoters in bacterial RNA polymerases (RNAPs) is controlled by sigma subunits. The key sequence motif recognized by the sigma, the −10 promoter element, is located in the non-template strand of the double-stranded DNA molecule ~10 nucleotides upstream of the transcription start site. Here, we explain the mechanism by which the phage AR9 non-virion RNAP (nvRNAP), a bacterial RNAP homolog, recognizes the −10 element of its deoxyuridine-containing promoter in the template strand. The AR9 sigma-like subunit, the nvRNAP enzyme core, and the template strand together form two nucleotide base-accepting pockets whose shapes dictate the requirement for the conserved deoxyuridines. A single amino acid substitution in the AR9 sigma-like subunit allows one of these pockets to accept a thymine thus expanding the promoter consensus. Our work demonstrates the extent to which viruses can evolve host-derived multisubunit enzymes to make transcription of their own genes independent of the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3526
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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