Local and global regulation of transcription initiation in bacteria

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Oct;14(10):638-50. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2016.103. Epub 2016 Aug 8.


Gene expression in bacteria relies on promoter recognition by the DNA-dependent RNA polymerase and subsequent transcription initiation. Bacterial cells are able to tune their transcriptional programmes to changing environments, through numerous mechanisms that regulate the activity of RNA polymerase, or change the set of promoters to which the RNA polymerase can bind. In this Review, we outline our current understanding of the different factors that direct the regulation of transcription initiation in bacteria, whether by interacting with promoters, with RNA polymerase or with both, and we discuss the diverse molecular mechanisms that are used by these factors to regulate gene expression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / genetics
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Sigma Factor / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Initiation, Genetic*


  • Sigma Factor
  • Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases