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Gene transcription is a process by which the genetic information encoded in DNA is transcribed into RNA. It's essential for all life and requires the activity of proteins, called transcription factors, that detect where in a DNA strand transcription should start. In eukaryotes (i.e., those that have a nucleus and mitochondria), a protein complex comprising 14 different proteins is responsible for sniffing out transcription start sites and starting the process. This complex, called TFIID, represents the core machinery to which an enzyme, named RNA polymerase, can bind to and read the DNA and transcribe it to RNA.
Scientists have used cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to visualize the TFIID-RNA polymerase-DNA complex in unprecedented detail. In this illustration, TFIID (blue) contacts the DNA and recruits the RNA polymerase (gray) for gene transcription. The start of the transcribed gene is shown with a flash of light.
To learn more about the research that has shed new light on gene transcription, see this news release from Berkeley Lab. Related to video 5730.
Eva Nogales, Berkeley Lab
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