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Transcription. 2010 Sep-Oct;1(2):85-8. doi: 10.4161/trns.1.2.12519.

Mechanism of histone survival during transcription by RNA polymerase II.

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University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, USA.


This work is related to and stems from our recent NSMB paper, "Mechanism of chromatin remodeling and recovery during passage of RNA polymerase II" (December 2009). Synopsis. Recent genomic studies from many laboratories have suggested that nucleosomes are not displaced from moderately transcribed genes. Furthermore, histones H3/H4 carrying the primary epigenetic marks are not displaced or exchanged (in contrast to H2A/H2B histones) during moderate transcription by RNA polymerase II (Pol II) in vivo. These exciting observations suggest that the large molecule of Pol II passes through chromatin structure without even transient displacement of H3/H4 histones. The most recent analysis of the RNA polymerase II (Pol II)-type mechanism of chromatin remodeling in vitro (described in our NSMB 2009 paper) suggests that nucleosome survival is tightly coupled with formation of a novel intermediate: a very small intranucleosomal DNA loop (Ø-loop) containing transcribing Pol II. In the submitted manuscript we critically evaluate one of the key predictions of this model: the lack of even transient displacement of histones H3/H4 during Pol II transcription in vitro. The data suggest that, indeed, histones H3/H4 are not displaced during Pol II transcription in vitro. These studies are directly connected with the observation in vivo on the lack of exchange of histones H3/H4 during Pol II transcription.


RNA polymerase II; chromatin; elongation; intermediates; mechanism; nucleosome; structure; transcription

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