Structural basis of transcription-translation coupling

Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 13:31 in Psychology & Sociology

In bacteria, transcription and translation are coupled processes in which the movement of RNA polymerase (RNAP)–synthesizing messenger RNA (mRNA) is coordinated with the movement of the first ribosome-translating mRNA. Coupling is modulated by the transcription factors NusG (which is thought to bridge RNAP and the ribosome) and NusA. Here, we report cryo–electron microscopy structures of Escherichia coli transcription-translation complexes (TTCs) containing different-length mRNA spacers between RNAP and the ribosome active-center P site. Structures of TTCs containing short spacers show a state incompatible with NusG bridging and NusA binding (TTC-A, previously termed "expressome"). Structures of TTCs containing longer spacers reveal a new state compatible with NusG bridging and NusA binding (TTC-B) and reveal how NusG bridges and NusA binds. We propose that TTC-B mediates NusG- and NusA-dependent transcription-translation coupling.

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