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Rho-independent transcription termination

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Title: Rho-independent transcription termination  
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Rho-independent transcription termination


Intrinsic termination (also called Rho-independent termination) is a mechanism in prokaryotes that causes RNA transcription to be stopped.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3] This pausing of the polymerase coincides with transcription of the poly-uracil sequence. The weak Adenine-Uracil bonds lower the energy of destabilization for the RNA-DNA duplex, allowing it to unwind and dissociate from the RNA polymerase.[2]

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.

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