General transcription factor

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General transcription factors (GTF's) are protein transcription factors which have been shown to be important in the transcription of class II genes to mRNA templates. Many of them are involved in the formation of a preinitiation complex, which, together with RNA polymerase II, bind to and read the single-stranded DNA gene template.[1]


GTF's are intimately involved in the process of gene regulation, and most are required for life. Tata binding protein, (TBP) is a GTF that binds to the TATAA box (T=Thymine, A=Adenine) the motif of nucleic acids that is directly upstream from the coding region in all genes. TBP is responsible for the recruitment of the RNA Pol II holoenzyme, the final event in transcription initiation. These proteins are ubiquitous and interact with the core promoter region of DNA, which contains the transcription start site(s) of all class II genes.

Not all GTFs play a role in transcriptional initiation; some are required for the second general step in transcription, elongation. For example, members of the FACT complex, Spt16/Pob3, facilitate the rapid movement of RNA Pol II over the encoding region of genes. This is accomplished by moving the histone octamer out of the way of an active polymerase and thereby decondensing the chromatin.


The most common general transcription factors are:

Note: Basal transcription in test tubes has been achieved using only highly-purified recombinant TFIIB and TFIIF.

See also


  1. Orphanides G, Lagrange T, Reinberg D (1996). "The general transcription factors of RNA polymerase II". Genes Dev. 10 (21): 2657–83. doi:10.1101/gad.10.21.2657. PMID 8946909.

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