Gene transcription machinery constrains DNA movements, study suggests

phys.org | 3/1/2019 | Staff
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Researchers in Japan have discovered that the DNA inside human cells moves around less when its genes are active. The study, which will be published March 1 in the Journal of Cell Biology, suggests that RNA polymerase II (RNAPII)—the key enzyme required to produce messenger RNA molecules from active genes—restricts the movement of DNA by organizing it into a network of interconnected domains.

To fit inside the nucleus of the cell, DNA is organized into chromatin, in which the strands of DNA are wrapped around groups of histone proteins, like thread around a spool, to form structures known as nucleosomes. Nucleosomes can then be folded up into even more compact structures. When a gene is activated, however, its chromatin is thought to open up and, at the same time, become more mobile and dynamic, so that RNAPII can transcribe the gene into messenger RNAs.

Kazuhiro - Maeshima - Colleagues - National - Institute

Kazuhiro Maeshima and colleagues at the National Institute of Genetics in Mishima, Japan, were therefore surprised when they discovered that the chromatin in human cells becomes more mobile when RNAPII and gene transcription are inhibited.

Maeshima's group used a high-resolution microscopy technique that allowed them to track the movements of individual nucleosomes inside living cells. When the researchers depleted RNAPII from cells, or added drugs that inhibit the enzyme, nucleosomes in the genome clearly became...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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