Multisubunit RNA polymerases of jumbo bacteriophages

Maria L. Sokolova, Inna Misovetc, Konstantin V. Severinov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Prokaryotic viruses with DNA genome longer than 200 kb are collectively referred to as “jumbo phages”. Some representatives of this phylogenetically diverse group encode two DNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RNAPs)-a virion RNAP and a non-virion RNAP. In contrast to most other phage-encoded RNAPs, the jumbo phage RNAPs are multisubunit enzymes related to RNAPs of cellular organisms. Unlike all previously characterized multisubunit enzymes, jumbo phage RNAPs lack the universally conserved alpha subunits required for enzyme assembly. The mechanism of promoter recognition is also different from those used by cellular enzymes. For example, the AR9 phage non-virion RNAP requires uracils in its promoter and is able to initiate promoter-specific transcription from single-stranded DNA. Jumbo phages encoding multisubunit RNAPs likely have a common ancestor allowing making them a separate subgroup within the very diverse group of jumbo phages. In this review, we describe transcriptional strategies used by RNAP-encoding jumbo phages and describe the properties of characterized jumbo phage RNAPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberv12101064
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


  • Jumbo phages
  • Multisubunit RNA polymerase
  • Non-canonical RNA polymerases
  • Promoter
  • Pseudo-nucleus
  • RNA polymerase
  • RNA sequencing
  • Transcription
  • Uracil


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