The general priming system of dnaB protein and primase (Arai, K., and Kornberg, A. (1979) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 76, 4308-4312) when compared with priming by RNA polymerase shows a number of striking differences. The general priming system is initiated primarily at single-stranded region(S), being active only on single-stranded DNAs (phages and homopolymers) and inhibited by single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB). Transcripts are only 10 to 60 residues long. By contrast, RNA priming by RNA polymerase is initiated at base-paired regions that are not destabilized by SSB (Geider, K., Beck, E., and Schaller, H. (1978) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 76, 645-649) and transcripts on DNA not coated with SSB are generally longer. In general priming, ATP (or GTP) has three functions: (i) an allosteric effect on dnaB protein in which the nonhydrolyzed analogs adenosine-5'-O-(3'-thiotriphosphate) (or guanosine-5'-O-(3'-thiotriphosphate) can substitute, (ii) initiation of primer synthesis which can incorporate deoxy-, as well as ribonucleotides, and (iii) elongation of the primer, in which the beta, gamma-imido analog can replace ATP (or GTP). An allosteric effect of ATP on RNA polymerase has not been demonstrated, nor has the facile synthesis of hybrid transcripts of ribo- and deoxyribonucleotides.