RNA polymerase of cyanobacteria

Transcription is a fundamental cellular process where a DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RNAP) synthesizes an RNA copy of the template DNA, initiating and terminating RNA synthesis at the desired genomic locations at the right time. Our aim is to understand how the structurally unique cyanobacterial RNA polymerase functions, how it is regulated and could it be further optimized to construct better cyanofactories.


Cyanobacteria are important primary producers, and recently possibilities to use cyanobacteria in commercial applications as cyanofactories has been studied.  Understanding of cyanobacterial acclimation to environmental changes including climate change and utilization of cyanobacteria as  biofactories require knowledge about the function and regulation of transcription machinery, including the RNA polymerase. The cyanobacterial RNA polymerase core has a unique six-subunit structure, and acclimation to different environmental conditions is largely dependent on group 2 sigma factors that resemble the primary sigma factor but are non-essential in optimal conditions.


We study the mechanism, regulation and structure of the cyanobacterial RNA polymerase. Currently we focus on the role of the small omega subunit of RNA polymerase core, as our resent results show that it plays a central role in acclimation of cyanobacteria to elevated carbon dioxide. In addition, we continue to analyze specific roles and signaling cascades of each sigma factor in the model cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. In the future, we will use our knowledge to construct better cyanobacterial strains for biotechnical applications.


Cyanobacteria are evolutionary ancient group of eubacteria showing many unique features of the RNA polymerase. Our research will tackle the cyanobacterial version of the transcription mechanism and regulation, and the results will reveal the features that allowed the success and diversity of the taxon. The gained knowledge will ultimately allow reprogramming the transcription profiles of cyanobacteria and constructing efficient bio-factory strains adapted to production in diverse habitats. Understanding of variation in bacterial transcription mechanisms and regulation might provide crucial information for development of new antibiotics.