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Non-canonical DNA transcription enzymes and the conservation of two-barrel RNA polymerases

Ruprich-Robert, Gwenaël, Thuriaux, Pierre
Nucleic acids research 2010 v.38 no.14 pp. 4559-4569
DNA, RNA, active sites, amino acid sequences, amino acids, bacteriophages, enzymes, gene silencing, monophyly, proteins
DNA transcription depends on multimeric RNA polymerases that are exceptionally conserved in all cellular organisms, with an active site region of >500 amino acids mainly harboured by their Rpb1 and Rpb2 subunits. Together with the distantly related eukaryotic RNA-dependent polymerases involved in gene silencing, they form a monophyletic family of ribonucleotide polymerases with a similarly organized active site region based on two double-Ψ barrels. Recent viral and phage genome sequencing have added a surprising variety of putative nucleotide polymerases to this protein family. These proteins have highly divergent subunit composition and amino acid sequences, but always contain eight invariant amino acids forming a universally conserved catalytic site shared by all members of the two-barrel protein family. Moreover, the highly conserved 'funnel' and 'switch 2' components of the active site region are shared by all putative DNA-dependent RNA polymerases and may thus determine their capacity to transcribe double-stranded DNA templates.