The largest subunits of RNA polymerase from gastric Helicobacters are tethered

Natalya Zakharova, Paul S. Hoffman, Douglas E. Berg, Konstantin Severinov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The rpoB and rpoC genes of eubacteria and archaea, coding respectively for the β- and β'-like subunits of DNA-dependent RNA polymerase, are organized in an operon with rpoB always preceding rpoC. The genome sequence of the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori (strain 26695) revealed homologs of two genes in one continuous open reading frame that potentially could encode one 2890-amino acid-long β-β' fusion protein. Here, we show that this open reading frame does in fact encode a fused β-β' polypeptide. In addition, we establish by DNA sequencing that rpoB and rpoC are also fused in each of four other unrelated strains of H. pylori, as well as in Helicobacter felis, another member of the same genus. In contrast, the rpoB and rpoC genes are separate in two members of the related genus Campylobacter (Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter fetus) and encode separate RNA polymerase subunits. The Campylobacter genes are also unusual in overlapping one another rather than being separated by a spacer as in other Gram-negative bacteria. We propose that the unique organization of rpoB and rpoC in H. pylori may contribute to its ability to colonize the human gastric mucosa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19371-19374
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number31
StatePublished - Jul 31 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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