Evolution-related multisubunit RNA polymerases (RNAPs) carry out RNA synthesis in all domains life. Although their catalytic cores and fundamental mechanisms of transcription elongation are conserved, the initiation stage of the transcription cycle differs substantially in bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes in terms of the requirements for accessory factors and details of the molecular mechanisms. This review focuses on recent insights into the evolution of the transcription apparatus with regard to () the surprisingly pervasive double-Ψ β-barrel active-site configuration among different nucleic acid polymerase families, () the origin and phylogenetic distribution of TBP, TFB, and TFE transcription factors, and () the functional relationship between transcription and translation initiation mechanisms in terms of transcription start site selection and RNA structure.


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