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Single-molecule characterization of extrinsic transcription termination by Sen1 helicase

S. Wang, Z. Han, D. Libri , O. Porrua, T.R. Strick.


Extrinsic transcription termination typically involves remodeling of RNA polymerase by an accessory helicase. In yeast this is accomplished by the Sen1 helicase homologous to human senataxin (SETX). To gain insight into these processes we develop a DNA scaffold construct compatible with magnetic-trapping assays and from which S. cerevisiae RNA polymerase II (Pol II), as well as E. coli RNA polymerase (ecRNAP), can efficiently initiate transcription without transcription factors, elongate, and undergo extrinsic termination. By stalling Pol II TECs on the construct we can monitor Sen1-induced termination in real-time, revealing the formation of an intermediate in which the Pol II transcription bubble appears half-rewound. This intermediate requires 40 sec to form and lasts 20 sec prior to final dissociation of the stalled Pol II. The experiments enabled by the scaffold construct permit detailed statistical and kinetic analysis of Pol II interactions with a range of cofactors in a multi-round, high-throughput fashion.

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Nat Commun. 2019 Apr 4 ;10(1):1545. doi : 10.1038/s41467-019-09560-9.