Structure of an RNA polymerase II preinitiation complex

Kenji Murakami, Kuang Lei Tsai, Nir Kalisman, David A. Bushnell, Francisco J. Asturias, Roger D. Kornberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Department of Biological Chemistry, Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel The structure of a 33-protein, 1.5-MDa RNA polymerase II preinitiation complex (PIC) was determined by cryo-EM and image processing at a resolution of 6-11 Å. Atomic structures of over 50% of the mass were fitted into the electron density map in a manner consistent with protein-protein cross-links previously identified by mass spectrometry. The resulting model of the PIC confirmed the main conclusions from previous cryo-EM at lower resolution, including the association of promoter DNA only with general transcription factors and not with the polymerase. Electron density due to DNA was identifiable by the grooves of the double helix and exhibited sharp bends at points downstream of the TATA box, with an important consequence: The DNA at the downstream end coincides with the DNA in a transcribing polymerase. The structure of the PIC is therefore conducive to promoter melting, start-site scanning, and the initiation of transcription.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)13543-13548
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number44
StatePublished - 3 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cryo-EM
  • General transcription factors
  • Transcription
  • Yeast


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