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Transcription of the T4 late genes


Abstract This article reviews the current state of understanding of the regulated transcription of the bacteriophage T4 late genes, with a focus on the underlying biochemical mechanisms, which turn out to be unique to the T4-related family of phages or significantly different from other bacterial systems. The activator of T4 late transcription is the gene 45 protein (gp45), the sliding clamp of the T4 replisome. Gp45 becomes topologically linked to DNA through the action of its clamp-loader, but it is not site-specifically DNA-bound, as other transcriptional activators are. Gp45 facilitates RNA polymerase recruitment to late promoters by interacting with two phage-encoded polymerase subunits: gp33, the co-activator of T4 late transcription; and gp55, the T4 late promoter recognition protein. The emphasis of this account is on the sites and mechanisms of actions of these three proteins, and on their roles in the formation of transcription-ready open T4 late promoter complexes.

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