Transcription by RNA polymerase II requires the assembly of the general transcription factors at the promoter to form a preinitiaiton complex. TFIIB (transcription factor IIB) plays a central role in this process, mediating the recruitment of RNA polymerase II and positioning it over the transcription start site. The assembly of TFIIB at the promoter can be a limiting event and several activator proteins have been shown to target TFIIB recruitment in the process of transcriptional stimulation. TFIIB is composed of two domains that engage in an intramolecular interaction. Indeed, the conformation of TFIIB has been found to underpin the function of this general transcription factor. Here we discuss our current understanding of TFIIB conformation and its role in transcription control.

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