In recent years, emerging structural information on the aRNAP (archaeal RNA polymerase) apparatus has shown its strong evolutionary relationship with the eukaryotic counterpart, RNA Pol (polymerase) II. A novel atomic model of SshRNAP (Sulfolobus shibatae RNAP) in complex with dsDNA (double-stranded DNA) constitutes a new piece of information helping the understanding of the mechanisms for DNA stabilization at the position downstream of the catalytic site during transcription. In Archaea, in contrast with Eukarya, downstream DNA stabilization is universally mediated by the jaw domain and, in some species, by the additional presence of the Rpo13 subunit. Biochemical and biophysical data, combined with X-ray structures of apo- and DNA-bound aRNAP, have demonstrated the capability of the Rpo13 C-terminus to bind in a sequence-independent manner to downstream DNA. In the present review, we discuss the recent findings on the aRNAP and focus on the mechanisms by which the RNAP stabilizes the bound DNA during transcription.

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