Mechanisms and regulation of RNAP transcription


  • Dr Finn Werner

    University College London

Project summary

The first step in gene expression is transcription which is carried out by molecular machines that produce an RNA copy of DNA. Transcription is carried out by RNA polymerase (RNAP) enzymes aided by general transcription factors but the mechanisms are poorly understood. When viruses infect cells they can radically change host transcription. Virus encoded regulators take over the host RNAP for their own purpose and the host responds to counter the infection.

We propose four lines of investigation to deepen our understanding of this process. The action of RNAP is orchestrated by many specific regulatory factors and we want to identify novel factors and characterise their function to explain how transcription is regulated in the cell. The DNA is packed into more or less compact protein-DNA complexes (chromatin) and is not always readily available for RNAP. We will characterise how different types of chromatin allow or prevent transcription. We will also investigate the molecular mechanisms by which both virus and host factors alter transcription in the context of this arms race.

The results of this study will help deepen our understanding of the transcription process.