Transcription by RNA polymerase II requires the assembly of the general transcription factors at the promoter to form a pre-initiation complex. The general transcription factor TF (transcription factor) IIB plays a central role in the assembly of the pre-initiation complex, providing a bridge between promoter-bound TFIID and RNA polymerase II/TFIIF. We have characterized a series of TFIIB mutants in their ability to support transcription and recruit RNA polymerase II to the promoter. Our analyses identify several residues within the TFIIB zinc ribbon that are required for RNA polymerase II assembly. Using the structural models of TFIIB, we describe the interface between the TFIIB zinc ribbon region and RNA polymerase II.

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