The basal transcription machinery of Archaea is fundamentally related to the eucaryal RNA polymerase (RNAP) II apparatus. In addition to a 12-subunit RNAP, Archaea possess two general transcription factors, the activities of which are required for accurate and efficient in vitro transcription. These factors, TBP and TFB, are homologues of the eucaryal TATA-box binding protein and TFIIB respectively. Archaea also possess TFE, a homologue of the eucaryal RNAP II general transcription factor TFIIE. Although not absolutely required for transcription in vitro, TFE nonetheless plays a stimulatory role under conditions where promoter recognition by TBP is sub-optimal. The basal transcription apparatus of Archaea is closely related to that of Eucarya but archaeal transcriptional regulators resemble those of bacteria. The mode of action of two such regulators has been characterized to determine how these ‘bacterial-like’ regulators impinge on the ‘eucaryal-like’ basal machinery.

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