DNA bending and wrapping around RNA polymerase: a "revolutionary" model describing transcriptional mechanisms

Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1999 Jun;63(2):457-78. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.63.2.457-478.1999.


A model is proposed in which bending and wrapping of DNA around RNA polymerase causes untwisting of the DNA helix at the RNA polymerase catalytic center to stimulate strand separation prior to initiation. During elongation, DNA bending through the RNA polymerase active site is proposed to lower the energetic barrier to the advance of the transcription bubble. Recent experiments with mammalian RNA polymerase II along with accumulating evidence from studies of Escherichia coli RNA polymerase indicate the importance of DNA bending and wrapping in transcriptional mechanisms. The DNA-wrapping model describes specific roles for general RNA polymerase II transcription factors (TATA-binding protein [TBP], TFIIB, TFIIF, TFIIE, and TFIIH), provides a plausible explanation for preinitiation complex isomerization, suggests mechanisms underlying the synergy between transcriptional activators, and suggests an unforseen role for TBP-associating factors in transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • DNA / chemistry*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation*
  • Prokaryotic Cells
  • RNA Polymerase II / chemistry*
  • RNA Polymerase II / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA
  • RNA Polymerase II