Research Article

Imaging dynamic and selective low-complexity domain interactions that control gene transcription

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Science  21 Jun 2018:
eaar2555
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar2555

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Abstract

Many eukaryotic transcription factors (TFs) contain intrinsically disordered low-complexity domains (LCDs), but how they drive transactivation remains unclear. Here, live-cell single-molecule imaging reveals that TF-LCDs form local high-concentration interaction hubs at synthetic and endogenous genomic loci. TF-LCD hubs stabilize DNA binding, recruit RNA polymerase II (Pol II), and activate transcription. LCD-LCD interactions within hubs are highly dynamic, display selectivity with binding partners, and are differentially sensitive to disruption by hexanediols. Under physiological conditions, rapid and reversible LCD-LCD interactions occur between TFs and the Pol II machinery without detectable phase separation. Our findings reveal fundamental mechanisms underpinning transcriptional control and suggest a framework for developing single-molecule imaging screens for novel drugs targeting gene regulatory interactions implicated in disease.

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