Structural basis for transcription reactivation by RapA

Bin Liu, Yuhong Zuo, Thomas A. Steitz, Wei Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


RNA polymerase (RNAP) loses activity during transcription as it stalls at various inactive states due to erratic translocation. Reactivation of these stalled RNAPs is essential for efficient RNA synthesis. Here we report a 4.7-Å resolution crystal structure of the Escherichia coli RNAP core enzyme in complex with ATPase RapA that is involved in reactivating stalled RNAPs. The structure reveals that RapA binds at the RNA exit channel of the RNAP and makes the channel unable to accommodate the formation of an RNA hairpin. The orientation of RapA on the RNAP core complex suggests that RapA uses its ATPase activity to propel backward translocation of RNAP along the DNA template in an elongation complex. This structure provides insights into the reactivation of stalled RNA polymerases and helps support ATP-driven backward translocation as a general mechanism for transcriptional regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2006-2010
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015


  • Backtranslocation
  • DNA translocase
  • RNA polymerase
  • RapA
  • Transcription


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