Single-molecule measurements of transcript elongation and termination by RNA polymerase
- Matthew Herbert Larson.
- Jan. 2011.
- Physical description
- online resource (xxiv, 148 pages) : illustrations (some color)
- Includes bibliographical references (p. 132-148).
- Transcription by RNAP is highly regulated in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, and the ability of the cell to differentiate and respond to its environment is largely due to this regulation. During elongation, for example, RNAP is known to momentarily halt in response to certain cellular signals, and this pause state has been implicated in the regulation of gene expression in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. In addition, once RNAP reaches the end of a gene, it must reliably terminate and release the newly-transcribed RNA, providing another potential point of regulation within different cell types. Both of these steps are crucial to ensure proper gene expression. In this dissertation, I focus on transcription elongation by both prokaryotic and eukaryotic RNA polymerases, as well as their regulation through pausing and termination. To probe the role of RNA hairpins in transcriptional pausing, a novel single-molecule "RNA-pulling" assay was used to block the formation of secondary structure in the nascent transcript. Force along the RNA did not significantly affect transcription elongation rates, pause frequencies, or pause lifetimes, indicating that short "ubiquitous" pauses are not a consequence of RNA hairpins. Force-based single-molecule techniques were also used to study the mechanism and energetics of transcription termination in bacteria. The data suggest two separate mechanisms for termination: one that involves hypertranslocation of RNAP along the DNA, and one that involves shearing of the RNA:DNA hybrid within the enzyme. In addition, a quantitative energetic model is presented that successfully predicts the termination efficiency of both wild-type and mutant terminators. Finally, the implementation of a novel optical-trapping assay capable of directly observing transcription by eukaryotic RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) molecules is described. This approach was used to probe the RNAPII nucleotide-addition cycle, as well as the role of the trigger loop (a conserved subdomain) in elongation. The results are consistent with a Brownian ratchet model of elongation which incorporates a secondary NTP binding site, and the trigger loop was found to modulate translocation, NTP binding, and catalysis, as well as substrate selection and mismatch recognition by RNAPII.
- Publication date
- Submitted to the Department of Biophysics and the Committee on Graduate Studies of Stanford University.
- Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2011.