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Mol Cell. 2011 Nov 18;44(4):635-46. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.09.018.

Applied force provides insight into transcriptional pausing and its modulation by transcription factor NusA.

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  • 1Department of Applied Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

Abstract

Transcriptional pausing by RNA polymerase (RNAP) plays an essential role in gene regulation. Pausing is modified by various elongation factors, including prokaryotic NusA, but the mechanisms underlying pausing and NusA function remain unclear. Alternative models for pausing invoke blockade events that precede translocation (on-pathway), enzyme backtracking (off-pathway), or isomerization to a nonbacktracked, elemental pause state (off-pathway). We employed an optical trapping assay to probe the motions of individual RNAP molecules transcribing a DNA template carrying tandem repeats encoding the his pause, subjecting these enzymes to controlled forces. NusA significantly decreased the pause-free elongation rate of RNAP while increasing the probability of entry into short- and long-lifetime pauses, in a manner equivalent to exerting a ~19 pN force opposing transcription. The effects of force and NusA on pause probabilities and lifetimes support a reaction scheme where nonbacktracked, elemental pauses branch off the elongation pathway from the pretranslocated state of RNAP.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22099310
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3227225
Free PMC Article
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