The Pribnow box (also known as the Pribnow-Schaller box) is the sequence TATAAT of six nucleotides (thymine, adenine, thymine, etc.) that is an essential part of a promoter site on DNA for transcription to occur in bacteria. It is an idealized or consensus sequence—that is, it shows the most frequently occurring base at each position in many promoters analyzed; individual promoters often vary from the consensus at one or more positions. It is also commonly called the -10 sequence, because it is centered roughly ten base pairs upstream from the site of initiation of transcription.
The Pribnow box has a function similar to the TATA box that occurs in promoters in eukaryotes and archaea: it is recognized and bound by a subunit of RNA polymerase during initiation of transcription. This region of the DNA is also the first place where base pairs separate during prokaryotic transcription to allow access to the template strand. The AT-richness is important to allow this separation, since adenine and thymine are easier to break apart (not only due to fewer hydrogen bonds, but also due to weaker base stacking effects).
Probability of occurrence of each nucleotide in E. coli
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