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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • List the different steps in prokaryotic transcription
  • Discuss the role of promoters in prokaryotic transcription
  • Describe how and when transcription is terminated

The prokaryotes, which include bacteria and archaea, are mostly single-celled organisms that, by definition, lack membrane-bound nuclei and other organelles. A bacterial chromosome is a covalently closed circle that, unlike eukaryotic chromosomes, is not organized around histone proteins. The central region of the cell in which prokaryotic DNA resides is called the nucleoid. In addition, prokaryotes often have abundant plasmids , which are shorter circular DNA molecules that may only contain one or a few genes. Plasmids can be transferred independently of the bacterial chromosome during cell division and often carry traits such as antibiotic resistance.

Transcription in prokaryotes (and in eukaryotes) requires the DNA double helix to partially unwind in the region of mRNA synthesis. The region of unwinding is called a transcription bubble. Transcription always proceeds from the same DNA strand for each gene, which is called the template strand    . The mRNA product is complementary to the template strand and is almost identical to the other DNA strand, called the nontemplate strand    . The only difference is that in mRNA, all of the T nucleotides are replaced with U nucleotides. In an RNA double helix, A can bind U via two hydrogen bonds, just as in A–T pairing in a DNA double helix.

The nucleotide pair in the DNA double helix that corresponds to the site from which the first 5' mRNA nucleotide is transcribed is called the +1 site, or the initiation site    . Nucleotides preceding the initiation site are given negative numbers and are designated upstream    . Conversely, nucleotides following the initiation site are denoted with “+” numbering and are called downstream    nucleotides.

Initiation of transcription in prokaryotes

Prokaryotes do not have membrane-enclosed nuclei. Therefore, the processes of transcription, translation, and mRNA degradation can all occur simultaneously. The intracellular level of a bacterial protein can quickly be amplified by multiple transcription and translation events occurring concurrently on the same DNA template. Prokaryotic transcription often covers more than one gene and produces polycistronic mRNAs that specify more than one protein.

Our discussion here will exemplify transcription by describing this process in Escherichia coli , a well-studied bacterial species. Although some differences exist between transcription in E. coli and transcription in archaea, an understanding of E. coli transcription can be applied to virtually all bacterial species.

Prokaryotic rna polymerase

Prokaryotes use the same RNA polymerase to transcribe all of their genes. In E. coli , the polymerase is composed of five polypeptide subunits, two of which are identical. Four of these subunits, denoted α , α , β , and β ' comprise the polymerase core enzyme    . These subunits assemble every time a gene is transcribed, and they disassemble once transcription is complete. Each subunit has a unique role; the two α -subunits are necessary to assemble the polymerase on the DNA; the β -subunit binds to the ribonucleoside triphosphate that will become part of the nascent “recently born” mRNA molecule; and the β ' binds the DNA template strand. The fifth subunit, σ , is involved only in transcription initiation. It confers transcriptional specificity such that the polymerase begins to synthesize mRNA from an appropriate initiation site. Without σ , the core enzyme would transcribe from random sites and would produce mRNA molecules that specified protein gibberish. The polymerase comprised of all five subunits is called the holoenzyme    .

Questions & Answers

What is Staining?
Fazal Reply
what is biology
PEACE Reply
Biology is the study of life
Tijani
what is biology
Ysabella Reply
biology is a study of living things
PEACE
Biology is a diverse branch of science that deals with mostly living things
Emmanuel
yes
Swapnil
What happen when inhibit the transcription?
Swapnil
what is the effect of not doing sexual intercourse
SUZAN Reply
what is the mechanism of cellular respiration
Rita Reply
what is enzyme
garry Reply
They are organic catalysts that alter the rate of chemical reactions in the body.
Iyadi
meaning they speed up reaction
Sarni
Enzymes are forms of chemicals that are specialized in their own areas.(eg digestion of food)
Emmanuel
Enzymes are organic catalysts
Ikenna
what is a cell
Praize Reply
Basic Functional Unit of Life
Pascal
what is biology
Mordi Reply
biology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments
Ysabella
which of the following event does not occur during some stages of interface?
Bangha Reply
What is microfilaments
KHalid Reply
What is multicellular organisms
Ovie Reply
these are organisms with more than two cells
Bangha
the process when a male toad fertilizer a female eggs is called what?
Ahrebe Reply
Fertilization
Gyamfi
how did unicellular organisms form plants and animals or is it that different unicellular organisms formed plants and animald
YXNG Reply
yes
James
thanks
YXNG
name the components of faeces
Damali
undigested carbohydrate, fibre
Sandra
what are unicellular organisms..?
Sackson
they have only one cell
Sandra
faeces contains many undigested food materials, after the food has been digested then it will be absorbed in the blood stream for assimilation.,......... but the remains toxic materials are stored in the rectum these toxic materials are the faeces and it contains bile salts, the polysaccharides .
James
nice.
Sandra
thanks
James
unicellular organisms are the ones with only single cell.
James
thanks for your answers guys.
Sackson
Ok
Richard
what is class bryophyta
Emefa Reply
how many stages do we have in glycolysis?
Damali
10 stages
Elisha
the presence of a membrane enclosed nuclosed is a characteristics of what
Addai Reply
eukaryotic cell
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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