In bacteria, a subset of transcription termination events requires the participation of the transcription termination factor Rho. Rho is a homo-hexameric, ring-shaped, motor protein that uses the energy derived from its RNA-dependent ATPase activity to directionally unwind RNA and RNA-DNA helices and to dissociate transcription elongation complexes. Despite a wealth of structural, biochemical and genetic data, the molecular mechanisms used by Rho to carry out its biological functions remain poorly understood. Here, we briefly discuss the most recent findings on Rho mechanisms and function and highlight important questions that remain to be addressed.
Keywords: RNA; helicase; hexamer; molecular motor; transcription termination.