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In a first, Einstein scientists discover the dynamics of transcription in living mammalian cells

synthesizing an RNA molecule. Transcription is probably inefficient for a reason. Were not sure why, but it may be because all the factors needed for transcription have to come together at the right time and the right place, so theres a lot of falling off and adding on of polymerases until everything is precisely coordinated.

The researchers observed that the binding phase of transcription lasted six seconds and initiation lasted 54 seconds. By contrast, the final stage of transcription elongation of the RNA molecule took a lengthy 517 seconds (about eight minutes). The possible reason: The lead polymerase on the growing polymerase II enzyme sometimes paused for long periods, retarding transcription in the same way that a Sunday driver on a narrow road slows down all traffic behind him. But in the absence of pausing, elongation proceeded much faster about 70 nucleotides synthesized per second than has previously been reported.

These two phenomena pausing and rapid RNA synthesis during elongation may be crucial for regulating gene expression. With this sort of mechanism, you could have everything at the ready in case you suddenly needed to rev up transcription, says Dr. Singer. Once the paused polymerase starts up again, in a very short time you could synthesize a new batch of messenger RNA molecules that might suddenly be needed for making large amounts of a particular protein.


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Contact: Karen Gardner
kgardner@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
6-Aug-2007


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