Bacteria lack subcellular compartments and harbor a single RNA polymerase that synthesizes both structural and protein-coding RNAs, which are cotranscriptionally processed by distinct pathways. Nascent rRNAs fold into elaborate secondary structures and associate with ribosomal proteins, whereas nascent mRNAs are translated by ribosomes. During elongation, nucleic acid signals and regulatory proteins modulate concurrent RNA-processing events, instruct RNA polymerase where to pause and terminate transcription, or act as roadblocks to the moving enzyme. Communications among complexes that carry out transcription, translation, repair, and other cellular processes ensure timely execution of the gene expression program and survival under conditions of stress. This network is maintained by auxiliary proteins that act as bridges between RNA polymerase, ribosome, and repair enzymes, blurring boundaries between separate information-processing steps and making assignments of unique regulatory functions meaningless. Understanding the regulation of transcript elongation thus requires genome-wide approaches, which confirm known and reveal new regulatory connections.
Keywords: Nus factors; RNA polymerase; antitermination; pausing; transcription-coupled DNA repair; translation.