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Intrinsic termination

Intrinsic termination (also called Rho-independent termination) is a mechanism in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes that causes mRNA transcription to be stopped. In this mechanism, the mRNA contains a sequence that can base pair with itself to form a stem-loop structure 7-20 base pairs in length that is also rich in Cytosine-Guanine base pairs. These bases form three hydrogen bonds between each other and are therefore particularly strong. Following the stem-loop structure is a chain of Uracil residues. The bonds between Uracil and Adenine are very weak. A protein bound to RNA polymerase (nusA) binds to the stem-loop structure tightly enough to cause the polymerase to temporarily stall. This pausing of the polymerase coincides with transcription of the poly-Uracil sequence. The weak Adenine-Uracil bonds destabilize the RNA-DNA duplex, causing it to unwind and dissociate from the RNA polymerase.

Stem-loop structures that are not followed by a poly-Uracil sequence cause the RNA polymerase to pause, but it will typically continue transcription after a brief time because the duplex is too stable to unwind far enough to cause termination.

Rho-independent transcription termination is a frequent mechanism underlying the activity of cis-acting RNA regulatory elements, such as riboswitches.


Lewin, Benjamin (2007). Genes IX. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. ISBN 0-7637-4063-2. 

See also

Rho factor

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Intrinsic_termination". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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