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Sci Rep. 2012;2:422. doi: 10.1038/srep00422. Epub 2012 May 25.

Dynamic mechanism for the transcription apparatus orchestrating reliable responses to activators.

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  • 1National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures and Department of Physics, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China.


The transcription apparatus (TA) is a huge molecular machine. It detects the time-varying concentrations of transcriptional activators and initiates mRNA transcripts at appropriate rates. Based on the general structural organizations of the TA, we propose how the TA dynamically orchestrates transcriptional responses. The activators rapidly cycle in and out of a clamp-like space temporarily formed between the enhancer and the Mediator, with the concentration of activators encoded as their temporal occupancy rate (R(TOR)) within the space. The entry of activators into this space induces allostery in the Mediator, resulting in a facilitated circumstance for transcriptional reinitiation. The reinitiation rate is much larger than the cycling rate of activators, thereby R(TOR) guiding the amount of transcripts. Based on this mechanism, stochastic simulations can qualitatively reproduce and interpret multiple features of gene expression, e.g., transcriptional bursting is not mere noise as traditionally believed, but rather the basis of reliable transcriptional responses.

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