Virus-encoded transcription factors have been pivotal in exploring the molecular mechanisms and regulation of gene expression in bacteria and eukaryotes since the birth of molecular biology, while our understanding of viral transcription in archaea is still in its infancy. Archaeal viruses do not encode their own RNA polymerases (RNAPs) and are consequently entirely dependent on their hosts for gene expression; this is fundamentally different from many bacteriophages and requires alternative regulatory strategies. Archaeal viruses wield a repertoire of proteins to expropriate the host transcription machinery to their own benefit. In this short review we summarise our current understanding of gene-specific and global mechanisms that viruses employ to chiefly downregulate host transcription and enable the efficient and temporal expression of the viral transcriptome. Most of the experimentally characterised archaeo-viral transcription regulators possess either ribbon–helix–helix or Zn-finger motifs that allow them to engage with the DNA in a sequence-specific manner, altering the expression of a specific subset of genes. Recently a novel type of regulator was reported that directly binds to the RNAP and shuts down transcription of both host and viral genes in a global fashion.
Extremophiles – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 5, 2017
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