Symposium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Discovery of Sigma Factors

The special symposium celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of Sigma Factors.

December 5, 2019 | 8:00 am - 5:15 pm | Waksman Institute


Sigma factors, the central players in bacterial transcription and transcription regulation, were discovered by Richard Burgess and Andrew Travers at Harvard and by John Dunn and Ekkehard Bautz at the Waksman Institute of Rutgers University. The discovery was reported in a joint paper by the Harvard and Rutgers groups in 1969 (Nature 221:43, 1969). The discovery was the starting point for the discovery of promoters, general transcription factors, mechanisms of transcription initiation, and mechanisms of transcription regulation in all organisms, from bacteria through humans. In addition, the discovery was a starting point for the development of expression vectors, protein overproduction, and the biotechnology industry,



Location Details

*Special Event Parking*
Visitors may park in Lots A, B & C without permits. Guests must use the below link to register for the event.  Until this process is completed their vehicles are not registered and your guests may receive a citation. Special event parking and special event permits are only for visitors to the University which does not include free metered parking. Faculty, Staff, and Students must park only in lots they are authorized to park in.

Selman A. Waksman Auditorium
Waksman Institute Rutgers University

190 Frelinghuysen Road
Piscataway NJ 08854



Event Agenda

8:00 - 9:00 am

9:00 - 9:15 am   

Richard H. Ebright (Rutgers, Waksman Institute)

Session 1: Primary Sigma Factor

9:15 - 9:30 am

Chair: Richard Burgess (U Wisconsin emeritus; co-discoverer of primary sigma factor)

9:30 - 10:00 am

A sigma factor tour
Seth Darst (Rockefeller)

10:00 - 10:30 am

Structural basis of ribosomal RNA transcription
Katsuhiko Murakami (Penn State)

10:30 - 11:00 am

Structural basis of transcription antitermination by Q
Richard H. Ebright (Rutgers, Waksman Institute)

11:00 - 11:15 am


11:15 - 11:45 pm

Unusual phage-encoded RNA Polymerases
Konstantin Severinov (Rutgers, Waksman Institute)

11:45 - 12:15 pm

Post-initiation roles for sigma70
Ann Hochschild (Harvard Medical School)

12:15 - 12:45 pm

Sigma70-dependent pausing and lambda Q function
Jeffrey Roberts (Cornell)

12:45 - 1:45 pm


Session 2: Alternative Sigma Factors, Physiology, and Development

1:45 - 2:00 pm

Chair: Jan Pero (OmniGene Bioproducts; co-discoverer of alternative sigma factors)

2:00 - 2:30 pm

Sigma factors and the proteins that regulate them: An anthology of structures
Elizabeth Campbell (Rockefeller)

2:30 - 3:00 pm

c-di-GMP arms an anti-σ to control of multicellular differentiation in Streptomyces
Mark Buttner (John Innes Center)

3:00 - 3:30 pm

Dysregulation of cell envelope stress response Sigma Factor causes lethal membrane stress
John Helmann (Cornell)

3:30 - 3:45 pm


3:45 - 4:15 pm

Comprehensive analysis of determinants of initial-transcription pausing
Bryce Nickels (Rutgers, Waksman Institute)

4:15 - 4:45 pm

A tale of two Sigmas
Richard Losick (Harvard)

4:45 - 5:15 pm

Predictive analysis of ECF Sigma Factor function across the bacterial kingdom
Carol Gross (UCSF)

Optional Dinner (speakers and chairs)