In attenuation, transcription is initiated but terminates prematurely. When tryptophan levels are low, the ribosome stalls at the tryptophan codons and transcription continues. When tryptophan levels are high, the ribosome does not stall at the tryptophan codons, and the 5' UTR adopts a secondary structure that terminates transcription before the structural genes can be copied into RNA (attenuation). More information on attenuation

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