A key component of the molecule responsible for the first step of converting DNA sequences to proteins is emerging as a powerful tool for biotechnology, as CSUN Professor of Biology Michael Summers describes in a new review article recently published online ahead of print in the journal Biotechnology Advances. In it, Summers and his coauthors at the Czech Academy of Sciences and the University of South Bohemia argue that sigma factors hold potential for engineering cyanobacteria to sequester carbon, make biological products, or produce biofuel.
Sigma factors are subunits of RNA polymerase that the polymerase to promoter sequences and initiates transcription of DNA into RNA. In addition to a primary sigma factor responsible for transcription of most constitutively expressed genes, bacteria typically contain a number of alternative sigma factors, each recognizing a specific set of promoters. By replacing the primary sigma factor with an alternative sigma factor, the cell can control whole sets of genes that enable adaptation to different stress conditions. This review explores sigma factors specific to the photosynthetic cyanobacteria, and their potential use to improve stress tolerance as a means to enhance the capacity for production of biofuels or high value compounds.
The full paper is available on the journal website.
Image: A schematic of the components of the bacterial RNA polymerase and the role of a sigma factor in transcription (Srivastava et al. 2020, Figure 1)