Function of the Bacillus subtilis transcription elongation factor NusG in hairpin-dependent RNA polymerase pausing in the trp leader.

Research paper by Alexander V AV Yakhnin, Helen H Yakhnin, Paul P Babitzke

Indexed on: 15 Oct '08Published on: 15 Oct '08Published in: PNAS


NusA and NusG are transcription elongation factors that bind to RNA polymerase (RNAP) after sigma subunit release. Escherichia coli NusA (NusA(Ec)) stimulates intrinsic termination and RNAP(Ec) pausing, whereas NusG(Ec) promotes Rho-dependent termination and pause escape. Both Nus factors also participate in the formation of RNAP(Ec) antitermination complexes. We showed that Bacillus subtilis NusA (NusA(Bs)) stimulates intrinsic termination and RNAP(Bs) pausing at U107 and U144 in the trpEDCFBA operon leader. Pausing at U107 and U144 participates in the transcription attenuation and translational control mechanisms, respectively, presumably by providing additional time for trp RNA-binding attenuation protein (TRAP) to bind to the nascent trp leader transcript. Here, we show that NusG(Bs) causes modest pause stimulation at U107 and dramatic pause stimulation at U144. NusA(Bs) and NusG(Bs) act synergistically to increase the U107 and U144 pause half-lives. NusG(Bs)-stimulated pausing at U144 requires RNAP(Bs), whereas NusA(Bs) stimulates pausing of RNAP(Bs) and RNAP(Ec) at the U144 and E. coli his pause sites. Although NusG(Ec) does not stimulate pausing at U144, it competes with NusG(Bs)-stimulated pausing, suggesting that both proteins bind to the same surface of RNAP(Bs). Inactivation of nusG results in the loss of RNAP pausing at U144 in vivo and elevated trp operon expression, whereas plasmid-encoded NusG complements the mutant defects. Overexpression of nusG reduces trp operon expression to a larger extent than overexpression of nusA.