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Single-molecule FRET method to investigate the dynamics of transcription elongation through the nucleosome by RNA polymerase II

Lee, Jaehyoun, Crickard, J. Brooks, Reese, Joseph C., Lee, Tae-Hee
Methods 2019 v.159-160 pp. 51-58
DNA, DNA-directed RNA polymerase, RNA, environmental factors, histones, nucleosomes, post-translational modification, transcription (genetics), transcription factors
Transcription elongation through the nucleosome is a precisely coordinated activity to ensure timely production of RNA and accurate regulation of co-transcriptional histone modifications. Nucleosomes actively participate in transcription regulation at various levels and impose physical barriers to RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) during transcription elongation. Despite its high significance, the detailed dynamics of how RNAPII translocates along nucleosomal DNA during transcription elongation and how the nucleosome structure dynamically conforms to the changes necessary for RNAPII progression remain poorly understood. Transcription elongation through the nucleosome is a complex process and investigating the changes of the nucleosome structure during this process by ensemble measurements is daunting. This is because it is nearly impossible to synchronize elongation complexes within a nucleosome or a sub-nucleosome to a designated location at a high enough efficiency for desired sample homogeneity. Here we review our recently developed single-molecule FRET experimental system and method that has fulfilled this deficiency. With our method, one can follow the changes in the structure of individual nucleosomes during transcription elongation. We demonstrated that this method enables the detailed measurements of the kinetics of transcription elongation through the nucleosome and its regulation by a transcription factor, which can be easily extended to investigations of the roles of environmental variables and histone post-translational modifications in regulating transcription elongation.