Protein clustering is a hallmark of genome regulation in mammalian cells. However, the dynamic molecular processes involved make it difficult to correlate clustering with functional consequences in vivo. We developed a live-cell super-resolution approach to uncover the correlation between mRNA synthesis and the dynamics of RNA Polymerase II (Pol II) clusters at a gene locus. For endogenous β-actin genes in mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we observe that short-lived (~8 s) Pol II clusters correlate with basal mRNA output. During serum stimulation, a stereotyped increase in Pol II cluster lifetime correlates with a proportionate increase in the number of mRNAs synthesized. Our findings suggest that transient clustering of Pol II may constitute a pre-transcriptional regulatory event that predictably modulates nascent mRNA output.
- Xiaowei Zhuang, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University, United States
© 2016, Cho et al.
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For some inducible genes, the rate and molecular mechanism of transcriptional activation depends on the prior experiences of the cell. This phenomenon, called epigenetic transcriptional memory, accelerates reactivation and requires both changes in chromatin structure and recruitment of poised RNA Polymerase II (RNAPII) to the promoter. Memory of inositol starvation in budding yeast involves a positive feedback loop between transcription factor-dependent interaction with the nuclear pore complex and histone H3 lysine 4 dimethylation (H3K4me2). While H3K4me2 is essential for recruitment of RNAPII and faster reactivation, RNAPII is not required for H3K4me2. Unlike RNAPII-dependent H3K4me2 associated with transcription, RNAPII-independent H3K4me2 requires Nup100, SET3C, the Leo1 subunit of the Paf1 complex and, upon degradation of an essential transcription factor, is inherited through multiple cell cycles. The writer of this mark (COMPASS) physically interacts with the potential reader (SET3C), suggesting a molecular mechanism for the spreading and re-incorporation of H3K4me2 following DNA replication.
DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair by homologous recombination is confined to the S and G2 phases of the cell cycle partly due to 53BP1 antagonizing DNA end resection in G1 phase and non-cycling quiescent (G0) cells where DSBs are predominately repaired by non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Unexpectedly, we uncovered extensive MRE11- and CtIP-dependent DNA end resection at DSBs in G0 murine and human cells. A whole genome CRISPR/Cas9 screen revealed the DNA-dependent kinase (DNA-PK) complex as a key factor in promoting DNA end resection in G0 cells. In agreement, depletion of FBXL12, which promotes ubiquitylation and removal of the KU70/KU80 subunits of DNA-PK from DSBs, promotes even more extensive resection in G0 cells. In contrast, a requirement for DNA-PK in promoting DNA end resection in proliferating cells at the G1 or G2 phase of the cell cycle was not observed. Our findings establish that DNA-PK uniquely promotes DNA end resection in G0, but not in G1 or G2 phase cells, which has important implications for DNA DSB repair in quiescent cells.