Regulation of gene expression by premature termination of transcription, or transcription attenuation, is a common regulatory strategy in bacteria. Various mechanisms of regulating transcription termination have been uncovered, each can be placed in either of two broad categories of termination events. Many mechanisms involve choosing between two alternative hairpin structures in an RNA transcript, with the decision dependent on interactions between ribosome and transcript, tRNA and transcript, or protein and transcript. In other examples, modification of the transcription elongation complex is the crucial event. This article will describe and compare several of these regulatory strategies, and will cite specific examples to illustrate the different mechanisms employed.
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