The objective of this project is to understand control of the elongation phase of RNA synthesis by RNA polymerase, a critical facet of transcription regulation. We will utilize a specific antiterminator protein, the Q protein of bacteriophage lambda, which becomes a subunit of RNA polymerase at a genome-specific site and thereby allows expression of downstream genes by preventing transcription termination. This protein provides a highly defined and accessible system with which to obtain mechanistic insights into universal enzymatic processes that control transcription elongation;for example, the TAT protein of the HIV virus is a regulator of transcription elongation that acts in many ways like lambda Q protein and other bacterial antiterminators. A detailed understanding of these mechanisms will allow approaches to therapies that depend upon the design of specific molecular agents. We will learn the nature of a structural modification, named a barrier that lambda Q protein induces in RNA polymerase in order to make it insensitive to terminators. We will study the role of the transcription elongation factor NusA in constructing the barrier, through biochemical and genetic analysis. We will use mutational analysis to discover the sites and pathways of modification of RNA polymerase by lambda Q protein, in particular to understand how Q regulates transcription pausing, a universal functional behavior of RNA polymerase. This work will complement our continuing efforts to understand the mechanism of termination itself. We also will study the mechanism of action of the protein Mfd, which mediates the process of transcription-coupled DNA repair, and acts to dissociate stalled elongation complexes as it recruits DNA repair proteins. Understanding how the energy of ATP is used by Mfd will illuminate the mechanism of termination and the energetic barriers involved in termination.

Public Health Relevance

Using bacterial and bacteriophage model systems, this project contributes to understanding basic mechanisms of genetic regulation, an undertaking essential to discovering the molecular basis of disease. It also directly investigates regulatory pathways related to those essential to pathogenesis by HIV and infection by toxic bacteria.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular Genetics A Study Section (MGA)
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Sledjeski, Darren D
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Cornell University
Schools of Earth Sciences/Natur
United States
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Strobel, Eric J; Roberts, Jeffrey W (2014) Regulation of promoter-proximal transcription elongation: enhanced DNA scrunching drives ?Q antiterminator-dependent escape from a ?70-dependent pause. Nucleic Acids Res 42:5097-108
Liu, Xiaoqiu; Jiang, Huifeng; Gu, Zhenglong et al. (2013) High-resolution view of bacteriophage lambda gene expression by ribosome profiling. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:11928-33
Hatoum, Asma; Roberts, Jeffrey (2008) Prevalence of RNA polymerase stalling at Escherichia coli promoters after open complex formation. Mol Microbiol 68:17-28
Roberts, Jeffrey W; Shankar, Smita; Filter, Joshua J (2008) RNA polymerase elongation factors. Annu Rev Microbiol 62:211-33
Davydova, Elena K; Santangelo, Thomas J; Rothman-Denes, Lucia B (2007) Bacteriophage N4 virion RNA polymerase interaction with its promoter DNA hairpin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:7033-8
Holmes, Shannon F; Santangelo, Thomas J; Cunningham, Candice K et al. (2006) Kinetic investigation of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase mutants that influence nucleotide discrimination and transcription fidelity. J Biol Chem 281:18677-83
Park, Joo-Seop; Roberts, Jeffrey W (2006) Role of DNA bubble rewinding in enzymatic transcription termination. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 103:4870-5
Wickstrum, Jason R; Santangelo, Thomas J; Egan, Susan M (2005) Cyclic AMP receptor protein and RhaR synergistically activate transcription from the L-rhamnose-responsive rhaSR promoter in Escherichia coli. J Bacteriol 187:6708-18
Guo, Jingshu; Roberts, Jeffrey W (2004) DNA binding regions of Q proteins of phages lambda and phi80. J Bacteriol 186:3599-608
Marr, Michael T; Roberts, Jeffrey W; Brown, Susan E et al. (2004) Interactions among CII protein, RNA polymerase and the lambda PRE promoter: contacts between RNA polymerase and the -35 region of PRE are identical in the presence and absence of CII protein. Nucleic Acids Res 32:1083-90

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