In our previous analysis of the information at binding sites on nucleic acids, we found that most of the sites examined contain the amount of information expected from their frequency in the genome. The sequences at bacteriophage T7 promoters are an exception, because they are far more conserved (35 bits of information content) than should be necessary to distinguish them from the background of the Escherichia coli genome (17 bits). To determine the information actually used by the T7 RNA polymerase, promoters were chemically synthesized with many variations and those that function well in an in vivo assay were sequenced. Our analysis shows that the polymerase uses 18 bits of information, so the sequences at phage genomic promoters have significantly more information than the polymerase needs. The excess may represent the binding site of another protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-674
Number of pages16
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 25 1989


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